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Atlanta United newcomer could play first game vs. D.C. United

D.C. United introduced Wayne Rooney last week to christen its Audi Field in grand fashion.

Now, Atlanta United (12-4-5, 41 points) could debut its latest signee to bolster an already strong roster when the teams meet Saturday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Eric Remedi is a 23-year-old defensive midfielder from Argentina who is expected to partner with Jeff Larentowicz once he gets acclimated to Atlanta's systems.

He was signed June 26 and was in attendance Sunday when Atlanta tied the visiting Seattle Sounders FC 1-1 before an MLS record crowd of 72,243.

"I'm going to try and help in the middle of the field," Remedi said through a translator on July 18. "I think I'm a good defender, I try to be very organized, recover the ball in the midfield, and then my job is to recover the ball and give it to our attacking players.

"It's a good group and I just want to try and get adjusted as fast as I can... I'm just trying to get adjusted to the style of football that is played here. It's been very intense so far."

While Atlanta leads Eastern Conference rival New York City FC by a point for the Supporters' Shield (most points in MLS), Atlanta is frustrated that opponents have been trying to slow the top attack in the league that has scored 43 goals, 19 by Josef Martinez.

"Teams are coming in with a similar game plan to sit back and try to counter," Larentowicz said. "It seems like there is a formula, and like we've said to ourselves, it's up to us to crack it. It's between us, each other, what we do with the ball, and whether we can crack the code."

Atlanta coach Gerardo Martino knows what needs to be done.

"Something we could work on is to have somebody other than Josef in and around the box who's able to score goals for us," he said. "We need to try to have more guys in goal-scoring positions."

Until the last match, D.C. United (3-7-5, 14 points) might have been one of those teams that packed it in against superior competition. But that was before Rooney, the star forward formerly of Everton, Manchester United and England's national team, stepped on the field in the 58th minute last Saturday.

He was credited with an assist for the 80th-minute goal by Paul Arriola but was also the catalyst with his pinpoint passing on Arriola's first score in the 69th minute as D.C. United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.

"We're still a young team so he can help with the soccer aspect and the mentality he brings with his experience," D.C coach Ben Olsen said. "That's the exciting part about this, we're lucky to have him."

Whether Rooney starts in Atlanta has not been announced.

Updated July 20, 2018

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