Do you ever sit back and wonder what became of the inaugural Atlanta United roster? Did the recent roster decisions make you reflect on past years? Did seeing Bobby Dodd filled with red and black a couple weekends ago bring your mind back to a different time? Does your financial advisor look kinda familiar, but you just can’t seem to put your finger on it? Well wonder no longer, because this post is here to help. We’ll be going through the members of that 2017 roster that, for one reason or another, did not continue past their first season in Atlanta, reflecting on their time here and seeing what they’ve been up to since.
Yamil Asad: A bonafide legend of the club, Yamil was acquired on loan from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina. He is well known for scoring the first goal in club history, but he solidified his status by having a great introductory year in MLS. Asad quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his impressive work rate and ability to produce on the field, tallying 7 goals and 13 assists. After the season ended, Atlanta attempted to bring him on permanently, but could not come to a deal with the Ezequiel Barco transfer in progress. Instead, Atlanta transferred his MLS rights to D.C. United for $500,000 (soon to be $600,000) in total allocation money. D.C. brought Yamil back to MLS in 2018, again on loan from Velez, where he continued his success, scoring 8 times and assisting 9. He returned to Velez, determined to finally translate his MLS form to his Argentine club. However, he only made one 20 minute appearance all season, and his contract expired in the summer, ending any opportunity for Velez to see a transfer fee from him. Asad signed a pre-contract with D.C. in September, and he will make another return to MLS in 2020, this time on a two year permanent contract.
Mark Bloom: After being released by the club at the end of the season, Bloom searched for other opportunities, at one point trialing with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Ultimately, he ended up retiring from professional soccer at the age of 30, for reasons explained in this Sportsnet interview. The Marietta native and former Silverback was able to make four appearances during his lone season back in Atlanta, primarily at right back. A midseason back injury put a dent in his season, and despite making the bench, Bloom never saw the field again. He now remains in the area, joining us commoners and working as an Edward Jones financial advisor.
Bobby Boswell: Despite being added halfway through the year and only logging seven minutes in the final game of the regular season, Boswell quickly became a fan favorite during his short stay in Atlanta. The defender’s personality and storied career made him much more than an ordinary depth piece or veteran presence. However, at 34 years old and facing free agency, Boswell decided to hang em’ up and move to Houston, Texas with his family. He’s still active on Twitter, though, and is 100% worth a follow.
Carlos Carmona: An important piece of the 2017 squad, Carmona was a rough defensive midfielder who holds the honor of receiving the first red card in Atlanta United history. He played an important role in getting the team into the playoffs, so queue the panic when he was transferred to Colo-Colo in Chile at his request to move back to his native country. However, some guy named Darlington Nagbe stepped into that hole and was able to send those concerns into oblivion. Back in Chile, Carmona took up a defensive midfielder role with Colo-Colo, starting in their Copa Libertadores Quarter Final run and playing in 19 of 30 league matches. This season has been different though, as he has been plagued with injuries, which has limited his time on the field. Colo-Colo currently sits second in the Chilean Primera Division, 13 points back from the top.
Harrison Heath: During his short stint as a Five Stripe, Heath spent most of his time loaned to Sacramento Republic in the USL. His single Atlanta appearance defined his tenure well, as he conceded the late turnover that lead to then-NASL Miami FC upsetting Atlanta in the Fifth Round of the U.S. Open Cup. Heath was released at the end of the season, and picked up by his father Adrian with Minnesota United for 2018. He found himself once again released after only four appearances for the Loons. This time, he dropped back into the lower leagues with... Miami FC. There, he has finally found some success, winning the NPSL title and jumping up into one of the newly created third divisions in NISA, where Miami took the Eastern Conference championship in the league’s tune-up showcase.
Kenwyne Jones: Signed in mid-2016, Kenwyne was one of the earlier “big” signings for the club, and was the penciled-in starter up top before Josef was acquired shortly before the season began. Jones started in lieu of Josef during his long injury absence, scoring two goals. He was best known for his off the bench hold up play, his backflip celebrations, and his barber skills. Kenwyne retired at the end of the 2017 season, but his rights were still able to be traded to Sporting Kansas City for some MLS reason. Recently, he is exploring coaching roles, and is currently an assistant coach for the Trinidad U-17 national team.
Zach Loyd: Loyd’s time in Atlanta was an unfortunate one, as he was on the season ending injury list for much of his time in five stripes. He was picked up by Atlanta in the 2016 Expansion Draft from FC Dallas. The defender made a lone appearance, starting the first half of the Open Cup match against Charleston. After the season, he opted to retire, and took up coaching instead. Loyd now manages the UPSL side Lone Star Republic, based in the outskirts of Dallas (who have a fantastic online persona. Seriously.)
Tyrone Mears: Best known as getting the assist for the historic first goal, Mears was initially the starting right back for the team. Eventually, he lost that role to Anton Walkes midway through the year. Mears was released at the end of 2017, and was eligible for the re-entry draft. He was picked by Minnesota United, where he made 11 appearances before parting ways mid-season and signing for West Brom in the EFL Championship, making 14 appearances there. Mears did not re-sign with West Brom and is now out of contract since July of 2019.
Jeffrey Otoo: Signed early in the roster building process, Otoo was brought to Atlanta from the Ghanaian second division at age 18. He spent his time as an Atlanta United player on loan in Charleston. Otoo was released at the end of the season, and he found his way to Des Moines, Iowa to play for the USL League Two powerhouse Menace last summer. After the summer season ended, he made his way back to Atlanta, returning to the professional ranks as the centerpiece of the Silverbacks’ ghost club Atlanta SC in the newly formed NISA, where he occasionally faces off with Heath’s Miami FC.
Jacob Peterson: Signed from free agency to be a veteran depth piece, Peterson made 11 total appearances, mostly coming off of the bench. The winger was still able to score 3 goals, including an at the death equalizer against his former Sporting Kansas City. He was waived by the club prior to the 2018 season, and has remained a free agent since. Peterson remained involved as an MLSPA Executive Board Member, but he is now no longer in that role.
Kyle Reynish: Acquired in trade with NYRB, Reynish was signed as a back up to Alec Kann and then became the third string keeper with arrival of Brad Guzan. Reynish started the July 4th game against San Jose, a hectic 4-2 win. His only other start came in October against Minnesota, with Guzan on international duty and Kann injured. A 60th minute red card in the match would be his final action for the club in a 3-2 loss. Reynish was released at the conclusion of the season, and ended up with the recently defunct Fresno FC in the USL Championship. There, he made 27 appearances in goal before announcing his retirement at conclusion of 2018.
Bryan Rochez: A former Orlando City DP from their inaugural 2015 campaign, things went downhill quickly for Rochez, and after time with OCB and on loan in Honduras, he joined Atlanta in 2017 after being waived. He made no appearances for Atlanta and didn’t even make it to the end of the year, being released in August. From Atlanta, he returned to his native Portugal to play for CD Nacional in the second division, where he finally found some success; he currently has 26 goals in his 56 appearances.
Alexander Tambakis: The first ever signing for Atlanta United all the way back in January of 2016, the Greek goalkeeper spent much of his time in Charleston. He alternated between the Battery and the bench for Atlanta during the 2017 season. He did make one appearance for Atlanta, coming on after Reynish’s red card in the 3-2 insanity that was the October Minnesota match. At the end of the season, he was released,and had his rights traded to SKC alongside Kenwyne Jones. However, he joined USL Championship’s North Carolina FC instead. Tambakis locked down the starting goalkeeper job in Cary, where he has produced 15 clean sheets in two seasons. Last season, he won Save of the Month an insane five times.
Anton Walkes: Walkes was brought to Atlanta via a loan from Tottenham, likely thanks to the connections of Darren Eales. The loan deal was initially a half-season one, but was extended to last through the end of the MLS season. He is credited with scoring the first own goal in team history, but Walkes regained the adoration of the Atlanta faithful by earning the starting spot at right back. Walkes made 23 total appearances, scoring 2 goals, and even struck up a bromance with Brandon Vasquez. He returned the love given to him by the fans upon departure, heaping praise on Atlanta in interviews. In 2018, he was loaned out again by Tottenham to Portsmouth, who later in the year signed him permanently. Walkes’ Portsmouth side went on to defeat Sunderland in the 2019 EFL Cup Final, and currently sit mid-table in the EFL League One.
While this group of players never got the opportunity to lift a trophy for the club and city, they did win something even more important: the city itself. The 2017 squad played the type of soccer that brought fans out by the tens of thousands and catapulted Atlanta United into its future successes. Where would the club be if they had had the same inaugural season troubles as FC Cincinnati? We might not have seen the record breaking crowds or basked in the glory of MLS Cup. Silverware or not, Atlanta is grateful for what these players gave for the city.