The MLS summer transfer window is officially closed and with it, a chapter of Atlanta United history is completed. The club added three new players to their roster, bringing their total number to seven. AUFC signed their first Young Designated Player and have officially loaned out all three players to three different teams.
By most accounts, it was a successful transfer window for the club preparing itself for 2017. Atlanta United began by signing Chris McCann, the former Wigan Athletic midfielder. The versatility of McCann is what makes the Irishman extremely attractive to AUFC. He can play the holding, defensive center-midfielder position as well as left-back and across the defensive back line if necessary. He's spent most of his career in the Championship and is a great player to have on the roster. He'll spend the next five months on loan to Coventry City in League One.
31-year-old striker, Kenwyne Jones, came next. With him came conversations as to the style of play Atlanta United may try to utilize when they begin play. Jones is a true number nine, an out-and-out striker who can score in a variety of ways. As captain of the Trinidad & Tobago national team, Jones has proven he can play within CONCACAF and understands the physical style of play pervasive in MLS. Jones most recently spent the end of last season on loan with Al Jazira from Cardiff City. He's split time between the Premier League and the Championship over most of his career but is excited to be a part of something new in Atlanta. His heart seems to be eager to help build Atlanta United into an MLS power. Jones will go on loan to Central FC in T&T before rejoining the team in January.
Tito Villalba became the club's first Young Designated Player and was touted as a major piece Carlos Bocanegra will be able to build around. The rumors around this kid swirled like a cyclone, but everything became official July 22. He came across Bocanegra's desk last October and, after meeting in person, scouting and performing the necessary due diligence, is now a part of the presumed attacking duo that we all hope leads to many goals and wins for Atlanta United. Villalba is a pacey player with great technical skill, affording him the ability to play out wide on the wing, as a second striker and possibly as a lone striker if needed. He was beloved during his time at San Lorenzo in Argentina's Primera División and has already won three titles with his boyhood club (Copa Libertadores, Supercopa Argentina and Argentina Primera División). San Lorenzo isn't unaccustomed to selling players to MLS. Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls midfielders Ignacio Piatti and Gonzalo Veron have both joined MLS by way of the Argentine club. Villalba is precisely the kind of player MLS teams are looking for and is a fantastic signing by Atlanta United. Villalba will go on loan to Club Tijuana in Liga MX until the end of December.
According to reports, Andres Guardado was also being sought after by Atlanta, but issues with his loan through December caused the whole deal to fall through. Guardado would've been a key piece both on and off the field. Unfortunately, Atlanta United will have to wait until the Winter Transfer Window to try and sign the Mexican midfielder.
These are the players we know Atlanta United was attempting to sign to the club. We obviously will never know who else Bocanegra and Darren Eales may have been targeting, but three out of four from the names made public is pretty good, especially considering the quality of signings. It's not impossible for Atlanta United to sign players between now and the January Transfer Window. Players out of contract or released from their contracts could be scooped up if those players fit the vision of the club. Any players picked up before the next transfer window would help fill the roster.