© Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Ambrose Answering the Call for Atlanta United

The Former Expansion Draft Pick Continues to Impress

Jarrett Smith
June 27, 2018 - 3:47 pm

It is fair to say that Atlanta United have caught the injury bug more than a few times in 2018. Darlington Nagbe is the most recent to miss time after the club reported he would miss two to three months.

Reinforcements are coming in the form of Eric Remedi, but it is another injury that has consistently kept Atlanta from running its preseason starting 11 out on the field.

Tito Villalba has struggled to stay fit, Ezequiel Barco missed a number of games early in the season, Chris McCann and Franco Escobar have both dealt with nagging injuries and now Greg Garza is out until at least the end of the regular season.

Through all of that, the Five Stripes still sit with the best record in MLS. Surviving injuries is something every team has to do and the difference between treading water and continuing to swim can be as simple as having someone slide into a spot effectively.

Enter Mikey Ambrose.

The 24-year-old started his career in the Dallas FC Academy before going to Maryland to play college soccer for three seasons. Eventually he signed with the Austin Aztex as they joined the United Soccer League.

He was then traded to Orlando City where he jumped back and forth between the MLS club and Orlando City B in the USL. At the end of the 2016 season he was taken by Atlanta with the fourth pick in the MLS Expansion Draft.

Ambrose appeared in seven games in 2017 as part of the depth Atlanta could feature at left back after Greg Garza suffered a shoulder injury in the MLS All-Star Game.

He has certainly found his stride in 2018, with extended playing time at Atlanta United 2 in the USL to keep him sharp.

“It definitely kept me game fit and allowed me to get a lot of touches and I’m grateful that I had that opportunity to play with them,” said Ambrose. “Scott [Donnelly] is a good coach too so he helped coach me through those games too. It’s been a good year so far.”

With Garza undergoing surgery Ambrose has taken the left back/left wingback position and shows no signs of letting go any time soon.

He’s shown flashes of scoring from set pieces in USL and a good habit of putting his body in the way of crosses while combining down the left side when called upon. He has also displayed good judgement on when to attack and when to stay home.

Captain Michael Parkhurst has taken notice and said Ambrose consistently does what is required of him both offensively and defensively.

“We’ve asked him to go in there and shut other guys down on the wing,” said Parkhurst. “We’ve asked him to get forward and combine well, and I think that he’s done that very well. I think that he’s starting to understand how to play with Barco on that side, with Miguel when he shifts out to that side.”

Ambrose has taken his opportunity and looks like more than just a fill-in at left back. He looks like an MLS starter on a contending club.