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DSS Mailbag #1: Bachelors and Barco

J. Sam Jones answers your burning questions in our new mailbag series.

MLS: Eastern Conference Knockout Round-Columbus Crew at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the DSS Mailbag, our new weekly-ish feature at DSS where J. Sam Jones takes your assorted questions and exploits them for content and a chance to stand on the soapbox that DSS has given him for no explainable reason.If you’d like to send in a question for next week’s bag, just want to say mean things about Sam’s writing, or want to apologize for a previous tweet or email where you were inconsiderate and really hurt my feelings, you can send words to @J_SamJones on or Nothing is off-topic because there is no topic. There’s a legitimate chance you won’t enjoy this and it might hurt a little. All answers are final and unquestionably correct.

Hi y’all. Your pal Sam here.

First of all, I’d like to remind everyone that our current projected starting lineup is this:


Second off, I’m excited to be answering your questions on a regular basis. I really think it’s going to give a voice to our readers that they haven’t had before and I’m looking forward to answering questions to hopefully give y’all a better feel for the game and team we follow in a broader sense, maybe make a few jokes, and avoid the sometimes excruciating financial and roster-based minutiae that comes with covering an MLS te—

Can you explain GAM vs. TAM? -Paul


Uhh, here’s a link.

Let’s move to something a little lighter and less comple—

I would like to know how/if players can move between the 1st team and the ATLUTD2 squads. - Carl

Oh come on, y’all.


Let’s do this I guess. This at least won’t take a 5,000 word Tiotal Football article to explain. Probably.

The exchange of players from the USL squad to MLS involves different rules than the exchange of MLS players to the USL. Fun right?*

*It’s not.

MLS to USL loans are flexible and are somewhat similar to baseball’s minor league system.

“If a player is loaned from an MLS Club to a USL affiliate with a Right of Recall incorporated into the agreement, then that player may be recalled by the parent MLS Club at any point during the MLS regular season.”

Essentially, as long as you claim that “Right of Recall”, you can send the player back and forth as often as you want (Hi, Andrew Carleton). Any player loaned from ATLUTD to ATLUTD2 can play for both teams throughout the year as long as they meet the other MLS roster guidelines already in place (international spots, etc.) when they come back to the big club.

For players that start with the USL Club (not on loan), the rules are more stringent.

In most cases, USL players are “called up” to their MLS affiliates through “Short Term Agreements”. These are four day mini-contracts that make the player available for non-MLS matches. For Atlanta United in 2018, this includes exhibition matches and U.S. Open Cup matches. In the future this may include CONCACAF Champions League matches (It will definitely include those because we’re going win the next 100 MLS Cups.). The trick with these call-ups is that they can only be enacted four times for each player. If we make a deep run into the USOC, we may see a few players run out of short term agreements.

Speaking of Soccerboxxx/The Club Below…

Likelihood Miles Robinson sees minutes with the first team? Does he start with ATL2? - @Oxente_United

We only saw Miles in five stripes once last year and 2017’s number two pick wasn’t exactly stout against Charleston in the USOC. He went on to play five games on loan with the Battery last year and never seemed to threaten to enter Tata Martino’s 18. Is it possible the 20-year-old made a leap during the offseason and is ready to take over the third-string centerback spot behind Parky and LGP? Maybe. But it would be an impressive jump to make.

It would be a welcome surprise, and anything that helps keep Jeff Larentowicz from playing in the back line would be a positive. It’s likely that Miles at least starts the year with G-Unit though, especially if the big club goes out and signs another defensive reinforcement.

1) During the #BarcoWatch saga, what have you learned that surprised you the most?

2) Also, what has been your favorite part of #BarcoWatch?

3) Do you think we will have a new #BarcoWatch-esque saga every offseason? - @DanDuttry

  1. Spanish.
  2. The friends we made along the way.
  3. Ugh. Yeah. Probably. The scary thing is that it’s going to start happening in reverse. As other teams come for our guys, we’ll experience life on the Independiente side of things. It ain’t gonna be fun. But then once we break the MLS record for selling a player, we can use all that money to start up another #BarcoWatch of our own. Yayyy? At least we get to keep learning Spanish by deciphering tweets and articles from unfamiliar South American journalists. Hazlo parar, por favor.

How many goals does Josef score this season? -@LFC123465

If he’s healthy all, 50?

Honestly, assuming he’s healthy for most of the year you can put the over/under at 23 and I think I might take the over. Josef averaged nearly a goal a game last year (0.95/gm) putting him on pace for 28.5 goals in 30 games. With an Atlanta attack that somehow improved in the offseason (Seriously, we might win the league) around him, I don’t think it’s completely crazy to consider him being better this year. Which is insane.

Who’s your favorite Imagine Dragons member? - Gabriel

Imagine Dragons is music for people who find The Chainsmokers edgy. Please don’t ever bring them up again, Gabriel.

With the addition of Nagbe/Escobar/re-signing of Larry, how much Gressel do we see in 2018? - Daniel

We’ll see less of Gresselmania this year but he won’t be gone for good. A couple of faces have changed but the level of depth in the midfield is essentially the same. Replace Asad with Zeke Boat and add one Darlington Nagbe to push Julian one spot down the depth chart. Hopefully, we begin to see more of Andrew Carleton rotating into the team, but Julian will continue to be one of the first subs off the bench and a squad rotation guy. Just to reiterate, last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year is a squad rotation guy. Have I mentioned we’re good?

What’s the best song of the last 25 years and why is it “Pyramids”? - Tiotal Football

Bruh, I’m not even sure “Pyramids” is the best Frank Ocean song. Here’s my definitive list of Frank songs that is completely inarguable in every way:

Frank songs ranked:

  1. Bad Religion
  2. Super Rich Kids
  3. Pyramids
  4. Pink Matter
  5. Solo (Reprise) ((Yes I know it’s basically an Andre 3000 song but it’s amazing and it’s my list))
  6. Godspeed
  7. Chanel
  8. Ivy
  9. Thinkin Bout You
  10. Solo
  11. Sweet Life
  12. Lost
  13. Forrest Gump
  14. Novacane
  15. White Ferrari
  16. Swim Good
  17. Futura Free
  18. Biking (Solo)
  19. Sierra Leone
  20. Self Control
  21. Provider
  22. Nights
  23. Crack Rock
  24. Monks
  25. Pink and White
  26. Lens
  27. Pilot Jones

Anyway, the best song of the past 25 years is “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem

What position will Nagbe play in this year? -@comeengetit01

Nags is your No. 8.

If you need a reminder of what our XI will probably look like head back to the beginning of the bag.

See all those fast people up top? Nagbe’s job will be to get the ball to them into space or keep the ball moving so someone else can. He’s probably going to be really good at it.

Nagbe is fantastic in possession and a quality passer. With so much talent in front of him he’s going to have his own space to work and help kickstart the attack for the 400+ goals we’re going to score this season. He’ll play deeper than he did in Portland and will rarely be asked to get forward. It seems to be almost a perfect fit for his skill set.

(Sorry Rob, please don’t fire me.)

There’s a chance we see him on the wing a few times, but he’ll spend most of his time in Atlanta in the center of the midfield.

Are you afraid that Jeff resents your love for him? -Haris Kruskic



Due to my...erm...affinity for Jeff Larentowicz and the fact I have a tattoo with his got dang number on my back (shoutout Eddie at Ink & Dagger in Roswell), the Atlanta United folks were kind enough to give me a call one December morning and let me know that Larry would be re-signing.They wanted me to come over to the tattoo shop and shoot a video with the premise that I’d be there to get my tattoo redone due to Jeff possibly leaving the team. We’d then walk into the next room where Jeff would be sitting in the tattoo chair (?), give a smug look to the camera and say “I’m not going anywhere.”

Personally, I was all in. Jeff...they asked him to take part and he said, and I quote, “Absolutely not.”

If you ever needed evidence of this guy being completely weirded out by, you know, “me”, there you go.

They did let me take Darren’s job as cryptic tweet transfer announcer for the day though, so that was cool.

What, in your opinion, is our biggest weakness and a reason why we wouldn’t make it to the MLS cup. -Clayton

I feel like I’ve established at this point we’re going to be good. It’s hard to look at this team right now and see a debilitating weakness. Anything we do pick out as negative is nitpicking for a team that has the potential to win multiple trophies in its second year barring injuries or the realization they’re an Atlanta sports team. But if we’re going to nitpick…

Is there a chance this team allows more goals this year? The attack is better with the edition of Barco and Nagbe, but Yamil Asad (RIP) did a remarkable amount of defending and a Nagbe-Carmona holding midfield isn’t going to match the defensive output of the Larry-Carmona pairing last season. On top of that, we’re like, really short. 6’ 3”-ish Anton Walkes did a lot to help our set piece defense last year but with him gone and replaced by 5’ 11” Franco Escobar, there’s a chance allowing set piece goals becomes a theme this season. It wasn’t entirely great last year either to be honest. Remember the Vancouver game?

I feel like I need to go ahead and warn everyone right now, there could be some stupid games this year. Last year, lesser teams bunkered down against us and were able to salvage minimal attacking chances for big results like winning each of the three times they played us despite finishing last in the league. It may be even worse this year. More teams will park the bus and attempt to hit us on the counter. Without that defensive-minded Larry-Carmona pairing in the midfield it may be easier for those teams to be successful on the break. In between winning eight games at a time, we’re probably going to lose a couple of games 2-1 where we have about 20 shots on goal compared to their two and it’s going to be infuriating. Prepare yourself. Especially for when one of those games happens in the playoffs.

The good news on the breaking down buses front is that Barco was brought in almost specifically to beat the teams putting 11 men behind the ball. Darren Eales said at the Super(!)Draft on Friday that their hope is for Zeke’s dribbling to unlock those defenses (“Like D.C. United”) and make something happen. Did I mention that he’s the most expensive player in MLS history and almost definitely will be able to do that? Did I mention we’re going to be good?

Which member of the Atlanta roster would make for the most entertaining Bachelorette contestant? - Rob Usry

I don’t mean to encroach on Parker Cleveland’s territory too much, but I feel qualified to answer this. My credentials are that I watched a *ton* of Bachelor/Bachelorette in high school. Don’t ask why.

The obvious answer would have been the former “Mr. Virginia” as named by Cosmopolitan Magazine Bobby Boswell. If you’ve never seen the audition clip that won him the honor, well then here comes the most mid-2000’s two minutes of your day.


It would have been amazing. But Bobby’s gone now, spending his days being the best Twitter account in American soccer.

So let’s look elsewhere. Chris McCann is unfortunately the first man off the board after we checked his references.

In my opinion, the most entertaining contestants on the Bachelorette are never the ones who actually care about winning. They’re there to make some friends, take free vacations, potentially make out with someone attractive, and pound Triple Sec with Chris Harrison. Some last longer on the show than others, but you always miss them when your down to the last three generic white dudes who have “real feelings” and want to ‘guard and protect her heart” or whatever. So no Larentowicz or Parkhurst or Guzan or Kratz or Kann or holy smokes we could have an entire XI of perfectly pleasant white dudes.

If we’re going for sheer entertainment value, it’s an all out war between Josef and Greg Garza.

Garza would be the cast favorite and there would 100% be a montage of him saying him stuff that only makes sense when you reach a higher plane of existence set to “Space Oddity.” He would stay around for most of the show because the producers said so. Greg would be the wild card and a potential dark horse candidate to win the got dang thing. You’d be rooting for him the whole time and would be crushed when he lost out to whatever J. Crew model actually wins because it will remind you of that time something similar happened to you in high school and dang it Jesse we could have been happy together.

Josef...Josef would show up, act like he didn’t care, hit the bar, get a rose the first night solely for ratings purposes, have all the guard and protect your heart guys explain to the camera that “Josef isn’t here for the right reasons”, be featured in a montage of him lying around the house in his pajamas all day, have great chemistry with the Bachelorette one on one, have terrible chemistry in group settings, fight the guard and protect guys trying to confront him when he keeps getting roses despite spending most of the day in pajamas, continue to progress, realize he’s actually in love with the girl, begin to be jealous at almost all points of the day, infiltrate someone else’s one on one date, fight, become upset and moody, be given an ultimatum that the she doesn’t want to spend all her time trying to fix him (she absolutely wants to spend her time trying to fix him hence the ultimatum), have a montage of him shaping up, making friends and beginning to dress nicely around the house, make it to the final rose ceremony against all odds in one of the greatest character arcs in television history annnnnnnnnnndddd then lose to a J. Crew model.

That J. Crew model’s name? Bobby Boswell.