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To 2 or not to 2: Chris Goslin Edition

The midfielder is making a case for first team minutes, but does it make sense to give them to him?

Atlanta United

First Team Pros: He’s MLS ready

Strength? Check. Technical Ability? Check. Composure in tight spaces? Check.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Chris Goslin, at 17 years of age, is ready to compete in Major League Soccer in 2018. While he’s still very green for a professional soccer player, he has all the tools you want from a central midfielder.

Atlanta United have made youth development a huge priority of theirs. Some publications over the past year have falsely and prematurely claimed that the Five Stripes are ‘setting the standard for youth development’ in this country. While that’s a lovely narrative, spending tons of money on development isn’t actually the same thing as developing talent. Until the club actually take a youth prospect and transition him into MLS and they succeed, they can’t truly claim that title of top development club.

Here you have a player who is physically ready and deserving based on his talent level. Now it’s up to the club to prove they can transition him from the lower levels and implement him in MLS. Something that many of the other clubs around the league have constantly struggled to do.

First Team Cons: He needs consistent minutes

While it’s fun to dream about a 17-year-old coming from the academy and immediately becoming a star for your club, it’s an extremely rare thing in soccer. Christian Pulisic was eased in at Borussia Dortmund getting 10-15 minutes at a time off the bench to prove he could hang.

Unfortunately for Chris, he doesn’t play a position that is conducive to those types of short cameo appearances. It’s not often that a manager wants to change his midfield partnership in the second half. Sure sometimes you want to bring on an extra body in the midfield to protect a lead, but in that scenario you aren’t really seeing the full potential of a player if the mindset is the defend first.

There could very well be opportunities for Goslin to be called up from Atlanta United 2 to make the bench or even a surprise spot start. However, common sense tells us it’s likely his immediate future is as a sure starter in the USL.

Reserve Team Pros: Reps, Reps, Reps

Goslin’s talent and potential is undeniable. But, he’s yet to really play many professional minutes. International Duty with the U.S. U-17’s severely interrupted his club minutes in 2017. While it would be fun to see him in MLS this season, a consistent slate of starts in USL, at least to begin the season, makes the most sense for his long term development. Let him go to Gwinnett and play every week. Go through the ups and downs that a young players does and learn.

Reserve Team Cons: Sending a bad message?

What does it say if a player who is more talented than several first team players is sent to the USL? Yes, the club is using all the logic in the world to help develop the player for the long term, but it’s a tough pill to swallow.

Verdict: G-Unit Bound

Atlanta United clearly have their sights set on an MLS Cup in 2018. While Goslin is talented, his age and inexperience cannot be overlooked. Expect the club to go out and find a midfield partner for Darlington Nagbe for the short term. Goslin will likely get sporadic chances at first team minutes in 2018, but will hopefully be handed the keys permanently in 2019, assuming he earns them.