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Atlanta United 2020 ins and outs: Forwards and Wingers

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Offering our opinions on the chances that each forward and winger could leave the club in the offseason.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to part three of our post-season Ins & Outs series. In part one, we discussed the defenders and goalkeepers. In the second, we took a look at midfielders. Today, we will finish it off with the forwards and discuss the likelihood of that these players will return wearing the five stripes next season.

Ezequiel Barco

SOCCER: NOV 01 MLS - FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rob: There will be books written on Ezequiel Barco’s time in Atlanta. There isn’t a more polarizing player on the roster when it comes to opinion. I think we all agree he’s a very talented player but something just doesn’t work with him in the mix. The club would love to open up a DP slot to bring in another impact player, but I’m just not sure there’s a way to get Barco out of here that isn’t admitting defeat and taking a substantial loss on his transfer. To me, it comes down to whether the club wants to do that or not. It’s a toss-up, for me, as things stand now.

Chances of leaving: 50%

Joe: Yeah I think the practical reasons the club would prefer to move on from Barco — his contract winding down, his lack of goal production, his frustration with his predicament — are evident and the real question is more about what dollar price the club would agree a deal to, and whether that bid lands on Darren Eales’s desk. If the club paid $15 million for him three years ago, do they feel the need to break even? Do they just need eight digits at $10 million? How much of a loss does the club feel is publicly acceptable (not just to fans but for setting market precedents)? And similarly, how much of a loss is a value proposition worth taking if there’s a potential DP signing out there the FO thinks would be a gamechanger? I honestly don’t think, as it stands right now, that Eales even knows what Barco’s future holds. But I’ll edge to the side of him leaving.

Chances of leaving: 51%

Manuel Castro

Rob: I think it’s safe to say that nothing clicked for Castro in Atlanta. He had his chances early on, especially at the MLS is Back tournament. That disaster of a showing was highlighted by his misses against the Red Bulls as moments that stuck out to me. He never seemed to recover from that match as far as his standing within the squad goes. It’s hard to envision the club having any desire to extend his loan or make it permanent.

Chances of leaving: 100%

Joe: Check, please!

Chances of leaving: 100%

Jurgen Damm

SOCCER: OCT 24 MLS - DC United at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rob: The last month of the season we finally started to see the potential that Jurgen Damm offers any side. I’m excited to see what he can do with better players to link up with, specifically Josef Martinez. If he can stay healthy and reach his top form, he could be something special for the Five Stripes. He’s not going anywhere unless something weird happens.

Chances of leaving: 2%

Joe: Lol I love the cheeky two percent. Yeah, he’s not going anywhere, and like you I was pleased to see him improve as he got minutes and fitness under his belt. Damm feels like a case in his career of water finding its level, and I think he can settle into MLS and be a solid role player on a good team. He offers an overall playing profile that is quite different to what the team has in attack right now, which is useful.

Chances of leaving: 1%

Jon Gallagher

Rob: If there’s an award for most improved player on the team, it goes to Jon Gallagher hands down. If he wants to stay, he’s earned his place as a nice depth player for this team. I can’t see any reason they wouldn’t want to have him around as a versatile forward with the ability to play defense as well. The question is, does he want to play that utility role?

Chances of leaving: 10%

Joe: We have once agin reached a Bright Spot™ from the season, and agree that he definitely proved himself as a legit squad player for Atlanta... or any other MLS team looking for this type of player. I tend to think the club will hope to field some offers from other teams, and it could behoove Atlanta to take a swap of allocation money if it means they can use it to sign a player they’ve targeted. I’ll put the chances of that slightly higher than what you have, but I think the club will be perfectly happy with Gallagher on the roster next season.

Chances of leaving: 20%

Adam Jahn

Rob: I’ve given Jahn a lot of crap since literally before he signed his Atlanta United contract. I will admit that he was better for the club than I ever imagined he would be. He did his job pretty well. With that being said, I think the club can do much better with finding a back-up for Josef Martinez. Hopefully they do. Could he stay on as a late-game, emergency option? Possibly, but I doubt it.

Chances of leaving: 49.2%

Joe: I don’t see Jahn back. It sounds like he was a bit of an emergency signing for the club this offseason when Nashville SC selected Vazquez in the Expansion Draft. I think Jackson Conway plays into this as well. I expect Conway to sign a homegrown player deal by year-end, and it doesn’t help Jahn that Conway is also a large human being who can do a lot of the dirty work in stoppage time.

Chances of leaving: 85%

Lagos Kunga

Rob: I love Lagos and wanted so badly for him to break into the first team in Atlanta in some capacity. His growth just hasn’t be what we’d hoped for. He’s done very little while on loan. No one knows what his contract situation is, but it may be the end of the road for him like several other homegrowns in the past.

Chances of leaving: 60%

Joe: Lagos is 22 now, and there are simply younger and/or higher potential players in the pipeline. Maybe his contract just keeps going and they loan him again, but I don’t see him playing for either the MLS or USL club in Atlanta next year.

Chances of leaving (including loan): 95%

Josef Martinez

SOCCER: JUN 01 MLS - Chicago Fire at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rob and Joe: LOL

Chances of leaving: 0%

Cubo Torres

Rob: All in all, I thought Cubo did an adequate job with what he had to work with in Atlanta. For someone who wasn’t playing much coming in, he obviously looked very rusty early on. Once he recovered from his injury he looked livelier. His hold-up play was pretty good and he started to feel the game better. It wasn’t the immediate impact anyone had dreamed of when his signing was announced, but it wasn’t a complete failure in my eyes. Unfortunately, I don’t see where he fits into the team going forward. He was always a short-term solution. I can’t see him coming back in 2021.

Chances of leaving: 95%

Joe: Yeah, hard to say it was a failed signing when it was kind of like a free lotto ticket. And like most lotto tickets, it didn’t hit. As was the case for so many players though this season, it was a difficult situation for Torres to step into. He just didn’t help himself much either. Oh well.

Chances of leaving: 95%

J.J. Williams

Joe: Who? Oh yeah, the guy that will go down with the most badass stat line on the back of the card of all time. I kind of love him for it.

Chances of leaving: 90%

Rob: I have nothing against J.J. Williams, but I want him to never play another minute for Atlanta United just so he goes down in history with the stat line six minutes played and one red card. Just walk out a legend, J.J..

Chances of leaving: 50%

Tyler Wolff

Joe: Is it weird that I would get Tyler Wolff and Pity Martinez confused when watching the broadcast? Anyway, hopefully Wolff was able to use the first team training for his personal development. I wish nothing more than for him to get a ton of minutes at Atlanta United 2 next season, and once the players are vaccinated he can rotate and be used on the bench for the first team when needed. Remember, he’s 17 years old, which is five years younger than Kunga, three years younger than Carleton, etc. Wolff is still in the infancy stages of learning the ropes as a professional.

Chances of leaving: 0%

Rob: It’s still way too early to make any judgements on Wolff’s long-term prospects. There’s no chance of him being sold or released. Maybe a loan would do him some good because he’s just not going to break into the first team in 2021 unless things go horribly wrong once again.

Chances of leaving: 0%

***

That’s it from us on these projections. These are simply our opinions based on purely instincts and deductive reasoning. As always, let us know your assessments of these players too.