Note: When starting an Atlanta (or Minnesota) United save, you’ll want to select the advanced setup. This will allow you to jump up your save’s start date from February to July 2016. If not, you’ll be going on holiday (in other words, quick simulating) during these months because there’s nothing to do. Building that training facility in Marietta is Eales’ problem, not yours.
This guide is meant for gamers who are familiar with the game and focuses on setting up your Atlanta (or Minnesota) career, which is quite different from any other team in the game.
Ready to lead Atlanta United to glory in Football Manager 2017? We’ll talk about the different ways you, as Atlanta United manager, will acquire players before the team’s inaugural season in MLS. Some of these are set up for you (drafts), and some will require you to do some legwork (scouting and finding players to sign). Where you take the team from there is up to you, but it’s vitally important to give the club a solid foundation for success in seasons down the line. For a general guide for managing in MLS on FM, check out this guide on Reddit.
My first tip for an Atlanta United save is to basically do nothing — at least at first. In a normal FM save, you’d want to start replacing scouts, coaches, etc. on Day 1. With Atlanta, those coaches and scouts would have very little to do. All of your players start the game on loan. Considering you’re not playing any games and thus don’t have any income, any wages you agree to with staff will drain the club’s finances. On a related note, Carlos Bocanegra WILL leave the club, and he’ll likely go to Orlando. There’s nothing you can really do about this, as it’s kind of a glitch in the game where Boca will basically be bored and decide to leave. To add insult to injury, you won’t be able to go back to the negotiating table with him, at least not for a year or so. So be prepared to fill that role if you prefer having a Director of Football. (Personally, I don’t see the necessity in having a DoF, so sentimental reasons aside, Boca’s leaving is fine by me… fewer wages to pay.)
Now that we’ve taken care some of the admin, let’s get on with this thing!
The Waiver Draft is the first player acquisition “event,” which occurs on December 12, 2016 in the game (don’t sim past this date!). The players you’ll find here aren’t anything special from my experience. Since I knew that talent in this pool was limited, I just tried to focus on the best all-around players I could find who’d be able to play in a couple of positions. Nothing to write home about, but you really need to be using both of your picks simply to start making up numbers on your roster. As a reminder, you will need to sign these players to new contracts after you draft them. (The game will remind you of this before they expire.)
MLS Expansion Draft
The MLS Expansion Draft happened in my game on December 14, 2016. This is the big one. Aside from signing DPs, this is your best chance to bring in players who will start regularly for the team. There will be much better players available to you in this draft. My strategy? Well, first I looked at Dirty South Soccer’s Expansion Draft Wish Lists to see if there were any players that the computer would be dumb enough to throw into the pool. There were. In drafting these players, I was aiming to accomplish a few things.
1. Draft players that align with my ideal tactical setup (4-3-3) and philosophy (mobile, athletic, attacking).
2. Find grab at least one solid CB that can be an anchor and play every game.
3. Find a guy who will be a team leader (high leadership attribute and a determined personality).
With that in mind, here’s who I drafted.
The MLS Re-Entry Draft is when MLS teams select players who are out-of-contract or have had their options declined by their current teams. In my game, it occurs on Decemeber 16, 2016. This basically allows you to take control of a player’s rights, and there are useful players on offer here. Just watch out for their salaries, because the reason decent players are in this draft is because they are making too much money for their current clubs to afford.
Despite what I’ve said about utilizing these drafts to bring in players, I didn’t find anyone here that I wanted, so I passed. There were a couple decent options that would’ve been good enough for a sub or bench role, but they were international players, so it wasn’t worth it.
I should take this moment to remind you to be cautious of drafting players who don’t have American citizenship. (Note: Be sure to check a player’s information tab to see if they have a secondary nationality. Sometimes a player won’t appear to be American, but if they are a dual-citizen of the U.S., they won’t take up one of your international slots.) International slots are prized possessions, and you’ll use them on players your scouts find in other countries. There’s no worse feeling than finding an absolute gem of a player, only to not have an international slot left to use. This may be obvious, but never EVER EVER trade away an international slot.
There’s no action you will need to take here, but it’s just worth noting that you will get your first intake of youth players from your affiliate club, Georgia United. It’ll look something like this.
A good SuperDraft can be a huge asset to your team, as it usually produces a handful of players who will can give you substantial quality minutes from Day 1. Keep an eye on the combine reports that will hit your inbox in the days leading up to the draft. They don’t give you a ton of information, but you can get a sense of which players to take by identifying whose stock is rising, per said reports. My SuperDraft occurred on January 12, 2017 in game. You will also receive a mock draft in your inbox, and you can reference it during the actual draft to help you identify which players the computer thinks are the best.
That’s it! Obviously in between these drafts, you should be scouting (I’d suggest South American lower leagues) for international players to fill gaps on your roster. Hopefully you build a stable of players that can someday lead you to an MLS Cup, or even a CONCACAF Champions League.