When Atlanta United announced yesterday that they'd hired former Orlando City GM Paul McDonough as their Director of Soccer Operations it took us a bit by surprise. We knew that he was with the Lions for their inaugural MLS season, but beyond that we were quite clueless about his credentials or accomplishments.
To get a better feel for what exactly Atlanta United is getting in McDonough, we spoke with Michael Citro, the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Orlando City SC blog The Mane Land. Here's what Michael had to say about AUFC's newest hire:
DSS: Atlanta United have hired former Orlando City GM/VP of Soccer Operations Paul McDonough as their Director of Soccer Operations. What can AUFC supporters expect from McDonough from a player evaluation/acquisition standpoint?
Michael: McDonough is a sharp guy who won't mortgage the future to win right away. He's a guy who thinks long-term and is good at managing the cap. He's not afraid to go after star players but he knows when to pump the brakes salary-wise when something doesn't make sense, as evidenced by his pursuit of Chicharito last summer. This interview might give you more insight into his thought processes.
DSS: What was the overall feeling from OCSC Supporters towards McDonough and how did they react once he left the club?
Michael: I felt like there was a surprising amount of supporter backlash -- not because McDonough didn't do a good job for Orlando City, but because our fans seem to be writing off a guy in Armando Carneiro, the club's new Chief Soccer Officer, who ran one of the world's top club academies at Benfica. It might just be a case of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't, but those who have appeared in our comments section and our Twitter mentions seem to think MLS rules are indecipherable and that Carneiro is in over his head when it comes to "the American game." I personally think those fans are selling short the intelligence and abilities of a man who rose to a pretty prominent position in European soccer without giving him a chance.
However, some of those same supporters didn't seem that satisfied with McDounough's summer transfer additions, wanting some kind of big name or star player to pair with Kaká, so it might just be a case of some people being unhappy either way.
DSS: Finally, in your opinion, did Atlanta make a good hire?
Michael: I do. McDonough has experience building a club from scratch. While he did have a handful of USL guys who made the jump with the team, most of those players were young and not in City's short-term plans. McDonough had a big hand in bringing in most of the team's every day lineup. The popular notion is that Phil Rawlins or Adrian Heath landed Brek Shea, but my sources say that McDonough was instrumental in making that move happen. He found a way to bolster Orlando's weak areas during the summer transfer window without sacrificing the future or overspending. I think he's a good judge of talent and he certainly understands all of Major League Soccer's player acquisition mechanisms. Atlanta could have done much worse with this hire.