With the work that has been done up to this point, Atlanta United is in a far different position than Minnesota in today’s Expansion Draft. While club president Darren Eales said that Atlanta will be looking for the most value in its five picks today, how they measure that value could be quite different than the Loons.
Here are some of the paths the club could take this afternoon:
- Best Player Available
There are some very talented players available in this draft, both at high salaries and at affordable ones. Atlanta could go into today and simply take the player they feel is the best one available at that slot, discarding any concerns about whether they fit Tata Martino’s system or fill a need for the roster as it stands so far. The front office could then make deals with the other teams in MLS to build the best roster possible with the pieces they acquire today.
- Cristian Techera, LW, Vancouver
- Maurice Edu, D/M, Philadelphia
- Steven Beitashour, RB, Toronto
- Harry Shipp, M, Montreal
- Jack McInerney, F, Portland
- Pick Based on Need
When you look at Atlanta United’s roster ahead of the draft, there are some holes that could easily be filled today with players available in the Expansion Draft. There are currently no outside backs on the roster and this draft is filled with a number of potential starters. A center back partner for Michael Parkhurst could be selected. Left wing and another central midfielder are two more holes in the squad right now. There are solid options at each of these positions available today.
- Chris Duvall, RB, New York
- Zach Loyd, CB, Dallas
- London Woodberry, RB, New England
- Seth Sinovic, LB, Kansas City
- Mohammed Saeid, CM, Columbus
- Domestic Players
Atlanta United currently has a number of its international roster slots already filled, with presumably more players coming in during the upcoming transfer window. Domestic players could be prioritized this afternoon in order to eliminate the need to trade for more international roster slots.
- Mark Bloom, D, Toronto
- Chris Klute, D, Portland
- Kofi Opare, CB, D.C.
- Michael Stephens, CM, Chicago
- Sal Zizzo, D/M, New York
- Salary Cap Considerations
It’s early to play the salary cap game, but with some of the significant names Atlanta has brought in, they are going to need to find some bargains for the roster as well. There are quite a few affordable options in today’s draft of players with low salary cap numbers who can contribute as starters. In a salary cap league, these types of players are often the deciding factor in achieving success.
- Ethan White, D, New York City
- Marc Pelosi, LB, San Jose
- Jared Jeffrey, CM, D.C.
- Femi Hollinger-Janzen, New England
- Cameron Porter, Kansas City
Realistically, you have to have an eye on all of these approaches in order to maximize the value of today. Assuming picks are not made strictly for a future trade, my priority list would be:
- Cristian Techera, Harry Shipp, Jack McInerney: In terms of impact players, these are the three best available today. Techera is probably the best fit for Atlanta United’s system, while the others might take more work to make sense in an Atlanta jersey. All have value on the field and in the trade market. One or two of these three could go a long way towards making Atlanta a dangerous team to face in 2017.
- Outside backs: There are lots of options at these positions, but Atlanta really needs to start filling out this part of the depth chart. With quite a few options, it doesn’t have to be the top pick, but you would like to come out of today with a starter or two on the outside of the backline.
- Depth: Center back and midfield are two options where you can add depth today without breaking the bank.