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Atlanta United notes: Martino hopeful Darlington Nagbe, Greg Garza return soon

Jun 13, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Atlanta United FC midfielder Darlington Nagbe (6) advances the ball against Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

MARIETTA, Ga. — Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe aren’t fully training yet, but the two injured Atlanta United players resumed running this week.

Manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino is hopeful that both players can rejoin the team at full health before the playoffs begin. The two former MLS All-Stars haven’t played in months.

“I don’t want to give a date, because if they’re not ready by that date, then it wouldn’t be accurate,” Martino said Wednesday through a translator at the club’s training grounds. “I think Darlington will be ready before Greg, and hopefully within a few weeks, we can have them back training with the group.”

Nagbe, 28, injured his abductor in late June, going down in the 57th minute during a home game against the Portland Timbers, his former club. Nagbe came to Atlanta by way of a trade this off-season. He started in the club’s first 17 games, tallying three assists.

Garza, 27, re-injured his right shoulder on May 20 in a loss to the New York Red Bulls. He had been playing with a torn labrum and elected to have surgery on it. The fullback started 10 games before his injury, notching a goal and three assists.

Nagbe was also voted into the 2018 MLS All-Star Game, but he was unable to play due to the injury. Garza initially injured his shoulder during last year’s all-star game.

“We think Darlington will be ready before the playoffs, and hopefully Greg as well,” Martino said. “But obviously, it’s really important for those players and for the team, that we get them minutes to get them back into the rhythm of playing games (before the playoffs).”

Martino added that Brandon Vasquez and Chris Goslin are also dealing with injuries. Vazquez will miss Friday’s game at Orlando with a foot injury, Martino said, and Goslin is expected to be out for at least a week after suffering an ankle injury. Martino said that Goslin has been training more with the second team, so he isn’t as informed about the severity of his injury.

Tito’s strike

Here’s what some Atlanta United players had to say about Hector “Tito” Villalba’s goal on Sunday vs. the Columbus Crew

  • Josef Martinez: “I think it’s one of the best goals that I’ve seen someone score, from the point where he takes the ball and runs and out-sprints everyone for the goal.”
  • Julian Gressel: “Tito is so fast and sometimes it’s really hard when he runs at you as a defender. When he has that speed and he’s decisive — sometimes he’s not decisive enough, but today he was. With his speed he just beat everybody and finished it cleverly.”
  • Jeff Larentowicz: “I was just trying to clear it, because the ball hits my hand and I’m thinking (the referee) is going to call a penalty. I didn’t celebrate because I thought they were going to call it back.”
  • Michael Parkhurst: “It was ‘I’m going, I’m going one-on-one’ and he cruised through the box past both central defenders and tucked it away. It was a fantastic finish. It was a big goal for us.”

More notes

>> Parkhurst and Chris McCann are one yellow card away from a one-game suspension for accumulation.

>> There’s a chance Martinez could miss an Atlanta United match in September. Martinez has been included on the Venezuelan national team roster for a pair of friendlies on Sept. 7 and 11, which is between a pair of road trips for the Five Stripes, at D.C. United on Sept. 2 and at Colorado on Sept. 15.

>> Jose Carranza, a former midfielder for ATL UTD 2 — Atlanta’s USL affiliate — has signed with Louisville City FC. Carranza, 19, will be with Louisville for the remainder of the USL season. Carranza came up in D.C. United’s academy and signed with ATL UTD 2 this past off-season on a short-term deal. He played in 13 games for Scot Donnelly’s side, notching eight interceptions, an assist and an 85 percent accuracy rating on passes.

>> Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez is a father. He and his wife welcomed a child into the world Tuesday, a daughter, Emilia. Gonzalez-Pirez missed training on Tuesday to be at the hospital with his wife, but returned to the pitch on Wednesday.

>> ATL UTD 2 fullback Shawn Nicklaw scored on an absolute banger of a goal Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to FC Cincinnati. It came in the 66th minute and started with George Bello drawing in a gaggle of defenders on the left wing. At the right moment, Bello passed through them to Laurent Kissiedou, who one-timed the ball to John Gallagher. From the top of the box, Gallagher flicked the ball to Nicklaw, who had plenty of time and space to let a shot fire from about 29 yards out. The Guam-International put the ball in the top right corner for his first goal of the season.

Said Nicklaw after the game: “It was one of those where you’ve just got to let it rip every now and then. I was fortunate that it went in. (Nicolas Caraux) told me to shoot more often, so I ended up doing it. That’s why I was pointing at him toward the end of the celebration.”

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