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The Daily Dirt, December 26: Finishing the foundation

Key pieces to be added between now and Opening Day

Coventry City v Northampton Town - EFL Checkatrade Trophy Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

In his column last week on about the roster status for all 22 teams in MLS, Matt Doyle spelled out some of the needs he sees for Atlanta United. He says the team lacks a true #10 or #6 and needs more defenders. Greg Garza has been added to help with the defensive side, but his points about the #10 and #6 roles need to be considered.

First the #6, I don’t think Doyle rates Chris McCann very highly. While McCann has versatility, he was signed to play as a defensive midfielder and that has been his primary position throughout his career. Whether Tata Martino elects to play with two defensive midfielders or two central attacking midfielders remains to be seen. However, McCann is likely to be in the #6 role on Opening Day. He has support in Kevin Kratz, Jeff Larentowicz, and Harrison Heath.

Doyle is right about the #10, in the traditional sense. Miguel Almirón is more of a “flying #8” than a traditional playmaker. However, he does create chances for others. Tito Villalba is a player who will also be expected to create chances. The playmaker role might be split up among a few players. I would not be surprised to see the third Designated Player end up being a central attacking midfielder who can get forward and score goals. That appears to be the greater need in this roster right now.

The desire to add a center back, coming from both Doyle and Ives Galarcep, would likely mean that they do not see Zach Loyd as a starter. It could be due to his injury history, or they could feel that a more dominant player in the air is needed to partner Michael Parkhurst. With Galarcep mentioning “top level” and Doyle saying it could be a TAM signing, expect a key contributor in this role when it happens.

While the work done so far has Atlanta United ahead of almost every other MLS expansion team at this point in their development, the work done now before Opening Day will have a huge impact on how competitive the team can be in 2017.


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A deeper look at St. Louis’ MLS expansion bid (SI)


Tigres win the LIga MX title in penalties over Club America (FMF State of Mind)

The Premier League’s “festive slog” starts today (NY Times)

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