We’re just two days away from finding out where Atlanta United will be slotted into six different MLS player acquisition methods. The Expansion Priority Draft is Sunday. Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with our coverage of the past few weeks and are fully prepared for this event.
If not, here’s where you can learn everything you need to know:
Soon we’ll find out which methods Darren Eales, Carlos Bocanegra, and Paul McDonough have prioritized to acquire talent. Just like they most likely have, we’re here to discuss and analyze the options and give you our line of thinking on which method should be the most desirable.
Here’s what our staff thinks Atlanta United should do on Sunday:
It ultimately depends on what Atlanta United want. If they are desperate to sign Brad Guzan or former LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho becomes available, then selecting the top spot in the allocation order is the obvious decision.
When New York City FC and Orlando City took part in the Priority Draft, there was an obvious top prize. Both teams desperately wanted Cyle Larin, and Jason Kreis sabotaged his New York tenure by accidentally making the wrong decision.
There is a lack of "can't miss" with the prospects this year. Jeremy Ebobisse is a talent, but he's not a guaranteed starter and 10+ goal scorer. Still, Atlanta should take the most secure road and choose the SuperDraft (and Ebobisse). The allocation order can be manipulated, there will be plenty of decent players available in the Expansion Draft, and the rest are kind of useless. Pick: On the fence
MLS is a tough and heartbreaking league. As of week 29 this season if games ended at 75 minutes Montreal would have been in 10th in the Eastern Conference, Houston would have the 6th playoff spot in the West, and Portland would have a road win. But the game lasts 90 minutes and the late goals that those teams have given up and scored reflect the depth and experience those clubs have or don’t have. I think when it comes to the Expansion Priority Draft if Atlanta United gets to pick first the team should take the first pick in the Expansion Draft. It will put the club in the best position to choose how it will build around already existing MLS talent and gain the needed depth and experience to be successful over the course of the season. Pick: Expansion Draft
If this question weren’t about Atlanta United, but about a team in general, I would want the number one pick in the MLS SuperDraft… HOWEVER, since Atlanta United is already doing such amazing work with their academy and developing young talent, I’m going to say that Atlanta United should go for the first pick in the Expansion Draft. This, of course, is with one player in mind: the Nordic Messi himself, Mix Diskerud. I could see Minnesota wanting him because, much like Atlanta going after Andres Guardado makes sense due to the Mexican population in Atlanta, it would make sense for them to go after Mix because of the large amount of people with Scandinavian heritage in that part of the country. Of course, Mix’s salary would need to be renegotiated (as we pointed out in an article the other day), but he has loads of potential. Pick: Expansion Draft
I keep changing my mind about this, so I’m not totally beholden to this, but I’d like for AUFC to prioritize the Expansion Draft. This is where we will start to build our core for the immediate future (1-3 years), and using the priority here would allow us to select (most) of the players Tata Martino and the front office have targeted. To me, it’s the safest way to use our priority, especially considering we haven’t been linked to (m)any USMNT or returning MLS players. However, we could take the allocation ranking and use it as a bargaining chip for another transaction down the line… I’ll stop here before I change my mind again. Pick: Expansion Draft
It’s all about what Atlanta United feels is a priority. If ATLUTD are looking to bring a big name and need the Allocation Order spot in order to get that done, then by all means, prioritize that before anything else. However, young talent seems to be something ATLUTD and Tata Martino enjoy playing and developing. A talented player like Jeremy Embobisse is up for grabs and presumably already under the watchful eye of ATLUTD during his time with the Charleston Battery. In a salary cap league, picking up a player through the MLS Super Draft or Expansion Draft could mean paying less than if ATLUTD went after a big name. In my opinion? Taking into account the pipeline to potential great players ATLUTD seem to have, focus on talented young players. Prioritize the MLS Super Draft and do the best you can with everything else. Pick: SuperDraft
Atlanta United needs to choose the Discovery Player Ranking. Bottom Line.
But in all seriousness, I think Atlanta United should prioritize the Expansion Draft over anything else. I like the thought of having a couple players, perhaps potential starters, who are already acclimated to MLS come in and make an impact from the get-go. Also, considering it's very likely that players such as Mix Diskerud and Zac MacMath will be available, I say you already have solid options to choose from.
I understand prioritizing the SuperDraft if you are absolutely sold on a player like Jeremy Ebobisse. Historically though, there isn't a lot of depth when it comes to the SuperDraft, meaning that really only the first round pick could contribute right away and the other three picks would have to be loaned out for a couple of years or so. I just see the Expansion Draft being a lot more well rounded.
The wild card in the Priority Draft is the Player Allocation Ranking. If Atlanta United already has a deal in place with someone, then great. If not, I don't see any reason to prioritize that first. Pick: Expansion Draft
For me it comes down to the Expansion Draft and the SuperDraft. As cruel as this is to say, no one wants to go play in Minnesota. If a big time player has to go through the allocation list, chances are he’ll request to play elsewhere anyways and Minnesota will have to trade. Plus if you look at the list, there aren’t many candidates worth the spot.
I would prioritize the Expansion Draft top pick. With only five rounds this year, each pick will be extremely important. Also a team can only lose one player this time, so whoever controls the first pick could easily ruin the plans of the other by taking someone from a good team. You have to think the odds are good that at least one difference maker will be left unprotected in the draft. Atlanta United are not in a position to miss out on such a player. Pick: Expansion Draft
My top priority Sunday would be to get the top pick in January's MLS SuperDraft. This year's potential draft class, headlined by Jeremy Ebobisse, is looking very strong. There is considerable value in the top spot due to Ebobisse's reputation. Whether you take him (and I would strongly consider it, he has the potential to be a special player) or trade down, the return is best here. If Minnesota wins the coin flip and takes this, the top spot in the allocation order would be my next priority over the Expansion Draft. Again, whether you use that top spot on a player or trade it, the return is stronger than the likely players available in the Expansion Draft. Pick: SuperDraft