The Big Board is the lifeblood of building a team. You track your depth chart, your needs, and your targets. Let’s take a look at some possibilities for Atlanta United’s Big Board.
The summer transfer window for MLS teams opens July 4 and runs through August 3. At the moment, it is unknown whether there will be an expansion draft after MLS Cup or not. In the past, teams have added a large portion of their inaugural rosters through that process.
In 2015, Orlando only signed Kaká in the summer window and loaned him to São Paulo FC through early December. New York City FC acquired five players in the summer window. David Villa signed a designated player contract and was loaned to Melbourne City of the A-League. Jeb Brovsky and Andrew Jacobson were acquired via trade and then loaned to Norwegian clubs. Kwame Watson-Siriboe (trade) and Josh Saunders (free agent) were signed and loaned to NASL clubs.
Atlanta is in a different situation with four players already signed prior to their first summer window. Alex Tambakis and Jeffrey Otoo are playing in the USL with Charleston this year, Junior Burgos is on loan to Tampa Bay of the NASL, and Andrew Carleton will split time between the US U17’s, Charleston, and the Atlanta United academy in order to fulfill the terms of his Homegrown Player contract.
What does the Atlanta United Big Board look like? We will be taking a look at some potential realistic targets for the club, grouped by position, to help prepare for the upcoming transfer window.intro
Neither Orlando or New York City prioritized wide midfielders in building their team as they chose to focus on the center of the field. Kevin Molino, who Orlando already had on their USL roster, is the exception and a key player for the club. Tommy McNamara for New York is turning into a threat out wide, although he was a bit of an afterthought when he was added in the expansion draft.
Atlanta United actually already has two options to play out wide in Andrew Carleton and Junior Burgos. Both could end up moving into the middle at some point, but they are well suited to play wide in a 4-3-3/4-5-1 setup. Neither would be traditional wingers hugging the sideline, they both like to cut inside and either deliver the final pass or score goals themselves. Carleton’s 1v1 skills are perfectly suited for isolated situations on fullbacks.
Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver Whitecaps: The 21 year old with Vancouver has great speed and great potential that is only starting to be realized. His contract with the Whitecaps runs through the end of this season, and with his US citizenship aspirations, a move overseas is not likely. Vancouver would not give him up cheaply, and could command a high price even if they are not able to re-sign him due to MLS roster rules. Of all the young players in MLS, Manneh might have the highest ceiling and be worth a big investment.
Tommy McNamara, New York City FC: McNamara can play out side or centrally and has really come into his own this season with NYCFC. He is also in his contract year and could be available for the right price. The 25 year old is a very creative, unpredictable player and might not appeal to every manager because he does not fit a stereotype.
Marky Delgado, Toronto FC: Like McNamara, Delgado got his start with Chivas USA. He moved to Toronto in the dispersal draft. Right now, he is very important to Toronto with Michael Bradley and Will Johnson out injured. He has been playing centrally in their absences, but played primarily on the right side of midfield earlier this season. Delgado is still young, only 21 years old, but his contract is up at the end of this season.
Marco Pappa, Colorado Rapids: The Guatemalan national team player feels like he has been around MLS forever, but he is only 28 years old. His contract in Colorado is up at the end of the season. He is typically at home on the left wing, but can cut inside from the right side, or play centrally in a playmaker role. He has struggled with injuries this season, just returning from a knee injury two games ago. In nine games this year, he has two goals and three assists.
Justin Mapp, Sporting Kansas City: Mapp has taken his cultured left foot to Kansas City this season, after previous stops in Montreal, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He is on a one year deal with Sporting and is currently 31 years old. He might not be able to start every game at this point in his career, but he can be an impact sub when you are in need of a goal.
Cordell Cato, San Jose Earthquakes: Cato has always been highly thought of, but rarely given many starts in MLS. He has 15 caps for Trinidad and Tobago at 23 years old and has speed to burn. He has only been used as a sub for San Jose this season, with only 53 minutes played thus far in MLS action. He is a right sided player, seeing action in midfield and also at right back.
Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC: I have always been a fan of Osorio’s and will be curious to see what happens with him when his contract ends this season. He is a very skilled product of the TFC Academy and has been used all over midfield this season. His versatility is a huge asset. Primarily playing on the left, he has also seen action in the middle and on the right.
Alejandro Bedoya, Nantes: The USMNT mainstay is under contract through the end of the 2018/19 season and is valued at roughly $2.5M. There have been rumors of him coming to MLS recently. He wants to raise his son in the US, so he might be willing to settle in the Atlanta area.
Brian Span, IFK Mariehamn: Span spent two years at the University of Virginia before going to Swedish club Djurgårdens IF. He played there for two years before returning to the US and signing with FC Dallas after a weighted lottery for his rights. He spent much of the 2014 season on loan at Orlando City in their final season in the USL. When he was released by Dallas, he joined Finland’s IFK Mariehamn. The 24 year old was part of bringing the first Finnish Cup trophy to the club in 2015 and has played in over 60 games for them on the right wing. His contract is up at the end of 2016 and could be worth a look.
Bryan de la Fuente, FC Ararat Yerevan: The 24 year old former US youth international is out of contract with his Armenian club. He plays on the left side of midfield and previously spent time with Chivas USA. He has played a good bit in Armenia, racking up nine goals and ten assists in nearly 50 league games.
Hector Villalba, San Lorenzo: We have covered the rumors on Villalba coming to Atlanta ever since his agent mentioned it on a Buenos Aires radio show. His name has popped up in connection with quite a few different clubs in recent weeks.
Josue, FC Porto: Other than this Tweet, there is nothing to connect Josue to a legitimate offer. He is currently 25 years old and in a logjam for playing time at Porto. He was loaned to Braga last season and did well, but possibly not well enough to stick with Porto. He typically plays on the right or in the middle as an attacking midfielder.
Rodney Wallace, Sport Club Recife: Portland has been missing Wallace this season since he left the club when his contract was up. The Costa Rican international is under contract through 2017, so it might be too high of a price to bring him back to the league. He has shown in Portland that he is one of the better left sided options in the league.
Other Domestic Options
Tony Cascio, Arizona United: Cascio joined Arizona when his contract with Orlando ended last season. He has bounced around MLS, previously playing with Colorado and Houston. The 26 year old can play on either side of midfield and is a solid option for depth.
Jarad Van Schaik, Rayo OKC: Van Schaik spent the last three years with Charleston, captaining them in 2015, before signing with Rayo OKC this season. He is a left sided option and can play in the midfield or in the back.
Villalba would be a tantalizing addition to the team and the league, but he is in high demand and might have a better option elsewhere. If he could be sold on a deal like Freddy Montero, come to star in MLS and make a name for yourself then go to Europe, it might just work.
Bedoya is another interesting candidate. He will come to MLS in the near future, maybe Atlanta will be the destination. He would be a strong leader for the new franchise for sure.
With Carleton and Burgos already in the fold, this is not as high of an area of priority for the club. There will be options available within the league, either through an expansion draft or through the waiver process, that would be suitable.