“Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” This is a quote by legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Even in the soccer realm, defense truly wins championships. While it may not be as exciting to watch as the free-flowing attacking style soccer, there is no doubt that a strong defense is required to achieve success.
With this, let’s take a look at what Atlanta United’s new signing, Fernando Meza, can bring to the team’s defense.
First, Meza brings needed experience to the team. He has the talent, but that is just one factor in the winning equation. Some games have proven to be challenging, whether it is because of the pressure of a big match or because the team is facing a tough competitor. During those moments, the experience becomes a handy tool for the team. Meza can help rally the team and can help lead the team to victory. Meza has played many matches for both the club and the country. Therefore, his experience alongside young center-back star Miles Robinson should prove to be helpful.
Meza’s biggest strength is that he has the technical ability to play out of the back. Not only does he have the ability, but he has the confidence as well. He was second among center-backs with the most pass completions last season. Given Atlanta United’s playstyle, having a ball-playing center-back becomes a crucial part of their team. Having a center-back with confidence to hold the ball and move forward helps the team further since they are used to a more attacking style. With Meza, this style can most definitely return.
Executing an attacking style of play can leave a team vulnerable to counter attacks because they often leave the defense outnumbered. This was one of Atlanta United’s biggest problems in the returning tournament. They dominated possession in most of their games, but as they got more men forward and as they lost the ball, it left them wide open on the counter. However, Meza can help fix these issues- his well-rounded ability to track down opposition attackers, his tackling ability, and his interceptions. All these contribute to a more solid backline that can help them avoid conceding goals from counter-attacks.
Meza’s strengths in playing out the back, however, can also be his weaknesses. He tends to play the “safe pass.” While it is not necessarily a huge weakness to his game, it is more of his lack of adventure, lack of creativity, and an unwillingness to take risks. During games where it is tough for midfielders to break down opposition defenses, sometimes a long pass from the back becomes the factor that separates a win from a loss. Long balls are often hard to predict as a defender, and it can catch a defender off guard if they lose concentration even for a second. The problem with Meza is that he refuses to take this risk, and he sticks to the more predictable pass and the more safe pass.
Overall, Meza is an essential and major signing for the club, given their showing in the recent return tournament.
If Atlanta United wants to continue to win and remain successful, it is a must to improve and bolster their defense. Meza can hopefully be the player for them, given his experience, confidence, technical ability, and game IQ. However, he needs to polish a few aspects of his game. Hopefully, with the bigger role he has for the club, Meza takes the initiative and the drive to push himself.