Atlanta United have been busy building their inaugural roster over the last few weeks. With all the new additions from throughout MLS, we thought it would be best to ask the writers who have covered these players in the past to give us a brief idea of what to expect from them. We got in touch with fellow SB Nation blogs who cover the newest addition’s previous clubs to give you an idea of what United are getting.
Mark Bloom - Mitchell Tierney, Waking The Red
If it wasn't for injury, there's a chance Mark Bloom would be starting day in, day out for Toronto FC. Injuries held him out of the entire 2015 season, and saw Toronto bring in Steven Beitashour to fill his spot this past season. Bloom has always been a quality fullback in this league, who can defend well but also get forward and create chances. Whether or not he is still starting calibre remains to be seen as he has played sparingly since starting in 2014.
Michael Parkhurst - Patrick Guldan, Massive Report
Michael Parkhurst struggled in 2016, but it's not clear how much of that was his decline or the challenges of playing in Gregg Berhalter's high flying attack focused system. Crew SC center-backs are often isolated and forced to make a significant number of high risk interventions. Parkhurst may be the smartest defender in MLS, but he no longer has the speed to cover what was required. Additionally, he struggled on set piece defense in front of a keeper that struggled in traffic, Steve Clark. If he's protected by a physical screening defensive midfielder and has a big keeper backing him up, I'd expect Parkhurst to "rebound".
Alec Kann - Thad Bell, The Blue Testament
There is not a lot to say about Kann. Sporting KC had him for a year to backup Tim Melia and when called upon did a good job. Watching him in practice and in his limited amount of games he seemed to have a good presence and commanded his defense well.
He has the size and physical tools to be a good MLS keeper and at 26 has time to continue improving. Keepers do tend to mature as players later so he could grow into a starting role but right now is well suited to being the backup.
Mikey Ambrose - Michael Citro, The Mane Land
It was clear fairly early in the 2016 season that Mikey Ambrose was one of the better players for Orlando City B and that he had MLS potential. Ambrose is small in stature, but he has good speed and deceptive strength, although larger players can knock him off the ball. For Orlando City, he took the mature approach of playing defense first and getting forward when possible. It’s difficult to know how he’ll develop for Atlanta, but I chose to protect him in the mock draft in part because of his upside and the promise shown in the few games he played with the Lions. Despite lacking experience, his first few MLS matches last season didn’t seem too big for him.
Harrison Heath - Michael Citro, The Mane Land
‘H’ as he came to be known in Orlando is an intriguing player who hasn’t yet come close to his potential but that’s not a concern because of his youth. Players like Kaká lauded his passing skills and pointed to him as someone to look out for in the future. In his few MLS games, he’s played anywhere from ‘pretty good’ to ‘meh’ so far, but he’s been asked to play with a variety of midfield partners and wasn’t getting regular minutes. However, in his USL matches last year, he didn’t quite look like that borderline USL/MSL player you’d expect, which was surprising. Atlanta could have a sleeper in Heath if he can mature as a professional and if he can stay healthy. He’s had two knee issues in the past two seasons and has said a mobility issue with an old ankle knock could be contributing to some instability in the knee.
Zach Loyd - Drew Epperley, Big D Soccer
Zach Loyd was a fan favorite during his seven years in Dallas. Being both a leader on and off the field, Loyd is the type of guy you want in your locker room. The 29-year-old is played either at center back or right back. If he is on the wings, his ability to get up the field is good as he had eight assists during his time in Dallas. If he is placed in the middle of the defense, he is an asset to track down quick players but will also need someone with some height to be paired with in order to help cover the vertical game.
Jeff Larentowicz - Mike Gray, LAG Confidential
Jeff Larentowicz is a defensive midfielder who made 23 appearances including 17 starts for the LA Galaxy in 2016. An intelligent reader of the game, the Pasadena native is positionally sound and strong in the air. In a system where Larentowicz is primarily tasked with keeping the ball in front of him, he can thrive.
But the 33-year-old has logged a lot of miles: Big Red is the all-time leader in minutes played for the Opta-MLS era, and as a result closes down on defenders slower than you would like.
Expect Larentowicz to perform well against the weaker teams and struggle vs. sides that move the ball quickly.