Matt Doyle, MLSsoccer.com’s Armchair Analyst, has rendered his assessment on the performance of all 22 MLS teams in the summer transfer window that closed late Wednesday. How did he think Atlanta United did? A very mediocre C+.
In what was a very active window for many teams, all Atlanta did was get an additional experienced central defender for basically nothing and pick up some cash for an international slot we’re not using. Since Michael Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez have missed a combined 82 minutes so far (46 of which were due to a Pirez red card later rescinded), adding Bobby Boswell to spell them made sense with the busy fixture schedule coming up in September.
Beyond that, United didn’t have any obvious holes to fill. The roster has held up very well so far, even with injuries to key players such as Josef Martinez and Greg Garza. But the current break, and one more to come before September, are allowing the team to come back up to full strength just as the season kicks into high gear. With the exception of Zach Loyd, now done for the year, everyone is getting healthy, as Jacob Peterson proved to devastating effect last weekend.
But Matt Doyle thinks we need help at right back. Anton Walkes, who has become the regular starter, is in his opinion a “stopgap solution”. That is true in that we only have him until the end of the season, when his loan from Tottenham Hotspur ends. Doyle also argues that we lack depth at that position, given that Tyrone Mears doesn’t fit the system.
First, he is forgetting that we also have Mark Bloom (who has 2 regular season starts this year) at that position. At this point, he may well be the #2 on the depth chart behind Walkes.
Second, Walkes is doing just fine. We recognize that he has his critics, but he fits Tata’s plans better than Doyle claims. He is a young player, only 20, but Tata clearly likes young players, and more importantly, he’s a teachable young player. He’s playing out of his natural position (defensive mid), so the learning curve has been steep. On the defensive side he has been very good and is steadily improving. On the offensive side he is still a work in progress, but that is less critical. That is especially the case given that the Atlanta attack tends to develop more on the left, not just because Garza and Yamil Asad are good, but also because Miguel Almiron has a tendency to favor his left slightly.
In conclusion, Atlanta already has what it needs to contend down the stretch, and a lack of transfer activity is a reflection of that. Scratch that C+, because we are the A.