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Turned Up to XI: Expansion Draft Update

All Paraguay, all the time.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

To say that yesterday was lit would be quite the understatement. Atlanta United were wheeling and dealing, putting into motion two pre-arranged trades with Orlando and Toronto while also grabbing some much needed defensive depth from the pool of unprotected players. With all respect to our friends at E Pluribus Loonum, it was also nice to see Minnesota United, I dunno, acquire a player. But, hey, who’s keeping score? [I am. I am keeping score. We’re winning]

How do these new additions change our projections for ATLUTD’s opening Starting XI?

Just to get you caught up, here’s my first projection:

The picture became a great deal more clear after Tuesday’s draft. After all, everyone south of Chris McCann in this lineup (apart from Michael Parkhurst) is purely speculation. So it is nice to be able to place some names in the back four that are actually signed to the squad.

But more than putting some actual names to projected basic MLS defenders, rumors began swirling last night that Atlanta United are close to signing attacking midfielder Oscar Romero as their third Designated Player. I’ll be honest with you readers, this is a big deal for me. Mostly because I picked Romero as my Paraguayan player ATLUTD should target way back in the Summer. I never thought we would get anywhere near a player of his caliber but, hey, here we are. What a signing he would be.

So what does that mean for a Starting XI? Here’s what I’ve got:

I’m keeping the rumors of Guzan and Valenzuela intact. I’ve added some new additions from the Expansion draft in Zach Lloyd and Mark Bloom to the backline. But more importantly, we’ve seen the Guardado rumors die a hard death now that Romero links are growing in strength. Hence, Romero comes in at the attacking mid, Almiron moves out to the left, and trade-window-acquisition Kevin Kratz cracks the Starting XI. Based on his history of playing a more advanced midfield role over in Germany he seems a decent enough fit for now.

Do I think this is going to really be our first eleven in 2017? Obviously not. (I’ll probably say this every week so get used to it).

Still, I do think this lineup is revealing some interesting trends in the way the front office is conducting business. They seem committed to a fast and technical front four, a solid set of midfield anchors, and a defense that can keep the score close enough for our prolific attack to bring home three points against almost anybody. That’s just about the formula most of us here at this ol’ blog have been hoping they’d embrace.

All we can do now is enjoy the fact that we don’t seem to have been dreaming big enough when it comes to this team’s ambitions.

Here’s the bench, mostly unchanged: Alexander Tambakis (GK), Alec Kann (GK), Mikey Ambrose (D), Junior Burgos (MF), Andrew Carleton (MF), Chris Goslin (MF), Harrison Heath (MF), Jeffrey Otoo (MF), Brandon Vazquez (FW), Romario Williams (FW).

As things change you’ll see updates on this projection. It has been quite the two days, hasn’t it?

Happy speculating!