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Atlanta United Big Board: Attackers

MLS Atlanta Launch Event Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for MLS Atlanta

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.

Goalkeepers
Center Backs
Outside Backs
Central Midfielders
Wingers

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


Attackers

NYCFC went with a DP signing in David Villa, combined with young and unproven forwards around him. Orlando went young, with no forward over the age of 24 and picking up their top scorer Cyle Larin in the SuperDraft.

So far, Atlanta has an unknown quantity in Jeffrey Otoo from Ghana. The 18 year old will be starting with Charleston soon and we will have a better expectation of what he can bring to the first team next year then.


MLS Options

Jack McInerney, Portland Timbers: The local product from Cobb FC has earned the role of “Super Sub” during his seven year MLS career, scoring 42 goals in 156 games (only 93 of those as a starter). His move to Portland this year has not seen an increase in his starts, with four in thirteen appearances. For a seven year veteran, it is easy to forget that McInerney is only 23 years old. He is creative in the box, makes intelligent runs off the ball, and has flair and creativity. He would bring a swagger to the team that would excite the fanbase.

Jose Villarreal, Los Angeles Galaxy: Villarreal signed with the Galaxy as a Homegrown Player in 2011. He is 22 now and it is unclear on whether he is part of the Galaxy’s long term plans, only making three appearances this year for a total of 17 minutes. Villarreal spent some time on loan at Cruz Azul and with LA Galaxy II in the US, as well as participating in US youth national team camps. He is a creative player who can create goals for others as well as score them himself. He can also play as a striker, underneath a #9, or wide on the left.

Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution: Another enigmatic young American striker, Agudelo is in the final year of his contract according to Transfermarkt. With the Revolution’s addition of Kei Kamara, it is possible that Agudelo could be on the move. He has three goals and two assists in thirteen appearances in 2016, mostly off the bench. Agudelo’s creativity at striker could be unmatched in the US player pool, and he has been steadily improving his back to goal play. The 23 year old has not reached his full potential yet, but he has not really been given the opportunity to do so.

Patrick Mullins, New York City FC: Mullins in also in a contract year according to Transfermarkt. The 24 year old has only seen the field five times for NYCFC this season. He has 10 goals in 54 games as a pro in his three year career. Mullins was a goal machine at the University of Maryland, scoring 47 goals in 92 games. He also added 35 assists, demonstrating a complete game lacking from many forwards in the league.

Quincy Amarikwa, San Jose Earthquakes: Amarikwa is another forward who has shown flashes of brilliance in his MLS career, but has not received many starts. He has been a sub in about half of his 166 pro games, notching 26 goals and 20 assists. Amarikwa headed to San Jose from Chicago in search of more playing time, but the Earthquakes might be willing to part with the forward when his contract ends after this season. He is only 5’9”, but can play like a target man. Amarikwa is known for his hustle and workrate. His contributions do not always show up on the stat sheet.

Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo: This one is more hopeful, especially since the change in coach at Houston should result in more playing time for Bruin. I have been the charter member of the Will Bruin fan club since he joined the league. If there was an heir apparent to the Brian Ching target man role in the US player pool, it would be Bruin. With his contract up at the end of the year, there is a chance he might be available. The 26 year old has 57 goals in all competitions during his career with the Dynamo. He has shown up in big games as well, with 6 goals in 13 playoff appearances.


Americans Abroad

Luis Silva, Tigres: Silva was a star in the making at DC United, with 15 goals in three seasons after joining them from Toronto. He never found his way after being traded to Real Salt Lake and then joined Tigres of LigaMX this year. He can play as a forward, or as an attacking central midfielder or on the wing. His versatility is a key part of his game. The 27 year old did not see the field for Tigres and could be looking for a return to MLS. He is worth monitoring.

Jonathan Top, Comunicaciones: The 23 year old joined Comunicaciones this year after two years with Arizona United in the USL. He was originally a Homegrown Player signing at FC Dallas where he struggled to see the field. He was also part of the US and Guatemalan U20 youth national teams.

Andrew Wooten, SV Sandhausen: Wooten is the son of a German father and an American mother and made his USMNT debut in late 2015. He has 14 goals in 63 appearances with Sandhausen in the German second division. He is 26 years old and while it is unknown if he would even be interested in a switch to MLS, he is entering the last year of his contract and could be tempted.


International Players

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: It has been a while since this rumor was mentioned, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jose Mourinho joining Manchester United, it might be worth observing. He would be 31 next season, but has a lot of games on his legs. The England captain would definitely turn heads if he signs here.

Kenwyne Jones, Cardiff City: Jones is currently unattached after his contract ran out. He is a well traveled 31 year old Trinidad and Tobago international, spending his last stint with Cardiff City. Last season he played in 38 games between Cardiff and Al-Jazira in the UAE Arabian Gulf League. He scored 5 goals in his 11 games with Cardiff. With his availability and experience, he has to be considered as an option.

Mauricio Pinilla, Atalanta: Pinilla is a veteran of the Chilean national team and entering the final year of his contract in Italy. The 32 year old played 20 games last season for Atalanta, scoring 5 times. He has 7 goals in 43 appearances for Chile, scoring a brace against Venezuela in their last World Cup qualifier in March. He is a journeyman, but 46 goals in Serie A in 150 games merits some attention.

Duckens Nazon, Stade Laval: Nazon turned heads with Haiti in the recent Copa America Centenario and is currently out of contract. The 22 year old scored six times with Stade Laval in all competitions last year in France, and also has four goals for Haiti in seventeen appearances. He was their leading scorer in the 2015 Gold Cup.


Other Domestic Options

Christian Ramirez, Minnesota United: Ramirez is the crown jewel of the NASL at the moment and a player Minnesota United would like to bring with them to MLS. However, with their entrance date to MLS somewhat uncertain, he could be tempted away. Some have even suggested him for a call up to the USMNT. He had a hat trick in Minnesota’s NASL Fall Season opener last weekend, and now has nine goals in thirteen appearances in 2016.

Romario Williams, Charleston Battery: Williams is under contract to Montreal of MLS, but on loan to Charleston this season. The 21 year old is also part of the Jamaican youth national team picture. He is raw and talented, but might not be ready for consistent time in MLS just yet. The question is whether Montreal wants to wait and see if he develops, or if Atlanta has seen enough at Charleston this year to rate him.

Justin Braun, Indy Eleven: Braun came out of nowhere to flourish under Preki at Chivas USA from 2008-2011, scoring 26 goals in that time. After being traded to Montreal, he has never quite been the same. He is having a good start to 2016 with Indy, scoring four times this season in twelve appearances. The 29 year old is a target forward and could be a viable option for depth.

Chandler Hoffman, Louisville City: The 25 year old is lighting up the USL this season, scoring eight times for Louisville City in his first year with the club. He has spent time in MLS with Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Houston, but never made it stick. He is originally from Birmingham and could relish the opportunity to play close to home if he can make it work in MLS this time around.

Sean Okoli, FC Cincinnati: Okoli is 23 years old and came into MLS originally with Seattle before playing with New England last season. After his release, he signed with FC Cincinnati and has reignited his career with consistent playing time. He has been a handful for opposing defenses, scoring seven times so far in 2016.


Recommendation

Typically, I would say that this is a position that should see a Designated Player signing. However, with the number of young American strikers available domestically, Atlanta United does not have to force a major international signing here.

Agudelo is probably the forward who would be most likely to change clubs, due to the logjam at forward in New England. McInerney is a favorite of the local fanbase and should also be considered.

I also like what I have seen from Okoli in Cincinnati and would try to bring him in for development and depth.

Another consideration here is the talent coming through the Academy that might be ready soon. I doubt there will be a Homegrown Player signing contributing major minutes at forward in 2017, but there should be soon.