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Justin Meram: Move to Atlanta United ‘has given me life and energy’

Meram has seen a return to top form since joining the Five Stripes in May.

Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

MARIETTA, Ga. — Atlanta United acquired winger Justin Meram from the Columbus Crew in May. On Friday, Meram said the move has kickstarted a career that was mired in a rough patch.

“I know my ability,” Meram told reporters at the Children’s Healthcare Training Ground. “Sometimes the past year was difficult, and this place has given me life and energy, and the locker room has been amazing and just being able to express myself like I knew how in years past. That kind of energy, motivation, confidence all boiled together with this group helps. So now my job is to continue to play [well] and to help this group win games.”

Meram spent his first seven seasons with the Crew and was heralded as one of MLS’ better attacking players. Orlando City SC traded for the Iraq international before the 2018 season, but things went poorly for the team as a whole and Meram individually. Amid a last-place campaign, the Lions traded him back to Columbus in the middle of the season.

Meram combined for two goals and four assists in 26 games with Orlando and Columbus last season. Before the Crew traded him to Atlanta two months ago, Meram had not registered a goal or assist in nine appearances.

In nine games across MLS and U.S. Open Cup play with Atlanta, Meram has three goals and two assists.

“This locker room allows me to be a goofy guy, come in, laugh, banter, get at guys,” Meram said. “And then also on the field, to not be afraid to make mistakes, understand that my teammates believe that I might not be perfect on all my dribbles, but there will be a time where the one comes off and we create something out of it.

“Having that belief around you gives you the confidence and desire to keep going and keep getting better.”

Meram has quickly developed a warm relationship with fans in Atlanta. A photo from the Five Stripes’ recent 3-3 home draw against the New York Red Bulls showed Meram pointing to a number 17 on his wrist tape, a nod to the home supporters. When he exited Atlanta’s 2-0 win over Saint Louis FC in the Open Cup quarterfinals Wednesday, the locals chanted his name throughout Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. Meram told reporters that experience was “pretty surreal” and “pretty awesome to see.”

“I’m very thankful for the fans bringing me in as one of their own from the get go,” he said. “They didn’t really look back on the past year I had, a little bit of the struggles. They looked at me as, ‘This guy could help.’ That gave me a little bit of confidence coming in.

“And now, when you put some goals away, it’s kind of my ‘thank you’ to them for giving me that extra push and extra confidence that I needed.”

 

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