Atlanta United added an exciting new piece to the team last week, bringing in defensive midfielder Eric Remedi from Argentine club Banfield. To learn more about the team’s newest addition, we sat down with Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra to discuss what fans of the Five Stripes can expect from their new midfielder.

How did Eric Remedi first get on Atlanta United’s radar?

The identification process for Eric was a real tribute to the scouting department, an aspect of the club we are continuing to build and improve. I want to give them big credit, because when Carmona left, we always knew we would need to bring in a midfielder. So Eric was identified through our various channels, analyzed through data, watched on video, and brought up the chain. We were always confident with Jeff Larentowicz, because as good as Carmona was defensively, Jeff was our true defensive midfielder last year. We wanted someone who could come in and add depth and competition, and specifically come in and be a ball-winner.

With Eric, he’s a little bit of a combination of both. He’s definitely defensively-minded first, a ball-winner. He’s someone who can complement Jeff lining up next to him, or when Jeff needs a rest, he can slot in there in his place. He also has the skill on the ball to play a bit higher up the field, though he doesn’t have the same qualities as a Nagbe or a Gressel. But he definitely feels comfortable handling the ball in the middle, as a complement to our midfielders.

How does that scouting process work?

It was a very collaborative process, we didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction with a player leaving, just jumping to bring in someone to replace them. We were confident in what we had, we knew Darlington was coming in, but we were always going to bring in competition for this spot. You go through the process of identification, then the process of monitoring, then by using data, watching them technically and tactically with your eye to complete our profile of what we were looking for. From Paul McDonough, Lucy and David to the coaching staff and front office, it was a very good collaboration and a very good process to get the player profile that we needed, without rushing into someone just to get a body in.

What did you see in him as a defensive player?

He competes. He doesn’t take plays off, and he’s always out there hunting the ball. We started watching him when he was 22 and he was mature for his age as far as soccer savvy, positioning and soccer IQ. He gets in good defensive positions and is very aware of his surroundings. As a guy who protects the back line, he takes good starting points and is very aware of where the danger is. So he’s energetic but he’s smart too, which is important. Those are the things that stood out to me.

Tata Martino requires a lot of his players technically. He’s obviously a defensive-minded player, but what kind of quality does he have on the ball?

He’s comfortable on the ball. He loves a tackle and loves to compete, and then when an opportunity comes to carry the ball forward and break the line, he has the ability to do that. We’re not expecting him to do that all the time, and that’s not his main quality, but he has the ability to do that as well. Coming into this team without technical ability is very difficult, and he has good technical ability. But his forte is winning the ball, his competitiveness, and helping to protect the defense. So we feel like he brings a good balance to our midfield.

Atlanta United has always taken the players’ personalities and locker room qualities into deep consideration when signing a player. What kind of a person can Atlanta United fans look forward to?

We went down to Argentina to see him and meet with him. Just being around him in person, we got to know him a little bit. He’s never been to America before and is really excited by the opportunity. He was aware of the South Americans that we have on our team, and had played against a few down in South America. That always helps when he has that knowledge ahead of time. He was just really excited about the opportunity. He had a big smile on his face and had a good persona, so that was nice to see him showing enthusiasm about coming here.

We definitely have those discussions about how the players fit in the locker room. It’s important for them to come in, integrate and be a part of the team. It’s a new culture and that can be a lot to process. But Eric was very open-minded, really eager for the opportunity to come here, and now that we’ve signed him, he keeps texting me about how he can’t wait to get out there and start training with the team. So we’re excited about him joining up with the squad and think he’ll be just as good an addition in the locker room as he is on the field.

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