Atlanta United declined to release three players who may have been expected to be a part of US men's national team coach Gregg Berhalter's January camp, a spokesperson confirmed to MLSsoccer.com. DirtySouthSoccer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution were the first to report the news.
Defenders Miles Robinson and Brooks Lennon, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan were all held from selection by their club, which will open preseason early in preparation for their second consecutive Concacaf Champions League appearance beginning in February.
Plans for Berhalter's camp include a three-week stay at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar, from Jan. 5-25 for training and closed-door scrimmages. From there, they'll fly to Southern California to face Costa Rica in a friendly on Feb. 1.
Atlanta, meanwhile, open Concacaf Champions League play on Feb. 18 away to Motagua on Hunduras in the first leg of a home-and-home aggregate series in the CCL Round of 16. They are set to open preseason on January 11.
Back in October, Atlanta manager Frank de Boer expressed frustration that Robinson was unavailable for a playoff match after pulling his hamstring in a post-match workout with the US national team. (Robinson did not play for the US in the contest, a 7-0 Concacaf Nations League victory over Cuba in Washington.)
“We already communicated that we didn't want him to do too much because he had a long season, he's not used to playing that many games, and that he's doing well, but take care of him,” De Boer said at the time. “And he did — in my point of view — too much after the match. Maybe also he would have [suffered the same injury] in one of our games. But we especially said 'just take it easy with him.' They didn't do it."
Atlanta do not appear to have singled out Berhalter and the USMNT in concerns over their players fulfilling international commitments ahead of their CCL preparations. The club also declined to release winger Ezequiel Barco for the Argentina U-23 national team, which will play in the South American Olympic Qualifying tournament beginning next month.
Club spokesperson confirmed. CCL and MLS preseason prep among the reasons why ATLUTD will ask Ezequiel Barco to report to January camp. https://t.co/rHVjigSOgg— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) December 16, 2019