As the first MLS transfer window that Atlanta United are expected to be active in approaches, we’re starting to notice a trend among the rumors that have popped up so far. In every instance a player has been linked with the expansion club it’s been for an attacker or attack-minded midfielder.
Even dating back to a year ago when the erroneous Wayne Rooney popped up, it’s been nothing but links to strikers, wingers, or attacking midfielders. Andres Guardado, the club’s rumored choice for their first Designated Player, is the most defensive-minded player they’ve been linked to and he’s a box-to-box midfielder.
Even if you look at the four players already under contract for the club it’s very top heavy. Alex Tambakis , a goalkeeper, is the club’s only “defensive” player. While Andrew Carleton is a winger, Jeffrey Otoo is described as a striker, and Junior Burgos is an attacking midfielder.
Then when you examine just the rumors it magnifies the focus of finding attacking talent. Several months ago it was reported that the club were scouting Panamanian striker Carlos Small. San Lorenzo winger, Hector Villalba, has been rumored to have received an offer from Atlanta United. There was also the vague rumor of interest in Brazilian attacking midfielder Adryan.
While it’s impossible to know for sure how serious any of these rumors are, it’s an interesting trend. All the focus of Atlanta United seems to be on the attacking end of the field. Not one player linked to the club has been a defender or even a holding midfielder. Which makes sense if you think about it.
Building an inaugural roster can be tricky. You have to conserve money wherever possible. Spending your money on skill players while attempting to wait and find bargains at the back is the way to go. So, it shouldn’t be surprising at all to see this trend. It’s just very interesting that it seems to be obvious that this is way they’re going.
Assuming there is an expansion draft, you can expect to see Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra use it to fill up their back line, while most of the attacking talent will come from big signings or other acquisitions. Spending more money than you need to on defending doesn’t make much sense for a first-year team. It’ll be a challenge for the team’s scouts and analytics department to find the right bargains on the market to fill up a back line that can withstand a season in MLS and not be a detriment.