Atlanta United has now used its three Designated Player slots with the acquisition of Josef Martinez. His deal starts as a loan but a full transfer is worked into the agreement, either after certain conditions are met or when the club decides to exercise the option.
The club went in a different direction than most in MLS in utilizing the DP slots, signing three young players rather than going for established names. Taylor Twellman, lead analyst for ESPN, was impressed:
Whether it works or not is yet to be seen, but absolutely love what @ATLUTD did with their 3 DP spots....all under the age of 24. #MLS— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) February 2, 2017
He’s right, it remains to be seen if this will work. I know the excitement is high right now, but keep in mind that these things do take time. Sometimes, players need time to adjust to a new league and new teammates. Sometimes, the chemistry does not come together as quickly as you would like. Judge this team by how they are playing in the summer rather than their early results.
The intent is absolutely there to do something different in this league. As I wrote yesterday at Soccer Down Here, the speed across the attacking midfield is better than anyone else in the league and compares to the fastest teams in the world. Even if the style and tactics take more time to develop, speed endures. Tata Martino can find ways to threaten his opponents just with the speed of Martinez, Almirón, and Villalba. Now, Martino has a weapon to use to seek results while he builds the system of play that will be his legacy at Atlanta United.
The business side of signing three young, developing players that could then be moved in the future for a profit is intriguing and another game-changing element to this. Atlanta United is thinking like a holistic soccer club rather than just a first team roster. Ultimately, that will be the legacy of these moves.
Dax McCarty is still adjusting to his trade away from the New York Red Bulls (Once a Metro)
Former RSL midfielder John Stertzer on trial with NYCFC (Hudson River Blue)
Houston Dynamo trying to regain their identity under Wilmer Cabrera (MLS)
Some think Minnesota United will be competitive in Year One (MLS)
Philadelphia Union judged to be the winners of the winter transfer window (Yahoo)
Bruce Arena would have brought Dom Dwyer into camp if he was eligible (ESPN)
The NWSL gets a TV partner and major sponsor (NY Times)
Liverpool restructuring the front office and their chief executive will step down (The Guardian)
Hamilton expected to get a Canadian Premier League team and their fans are excited (The Spec)