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Atlanta United 2020 Report Cards: Jon Gallagher

The Aberdeen connection works out

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Some English wit once said that there are only two good things ever to come out of Scotland: whisky and the road south. But that doesn’t apply to anything that went to Scotland and came back. Jon Gallagher is in fact Irish (and played for England as a teenager), but his one year stint in Scotland with Aberdeen clearly did wonders for the 2018 SuperDraft pick. With Aberdeen he appeared in 31 games across all competitions, scoring 1 goal before returning to Atlanta in the middle of the 2020 season. Whereupon he promptly resumed the Aberdeen connection by playing under former Aberdeen midfielder Stephen Glass. He also played US college soccer at Notre Dame (where else for an Irishman?) under Bobby Clark, who was a goalkeeper at...Aberdeen.

Position: Forward

Games Played: 16 Games (11 Starts)

Goals: 4

What went right this season?

The Scottish Premiership is, to put it mildly, a physical league, so the fact that he returned Stateside able to play just a month after the end of that grueling season is a positive in and of itself. But beyond that it is clear that not only was he able to play, he was ready to play. Gallagher brought with him an energy that was frequently lacking in a team that had clearly lost its direction. Part of that is possibly that the loan spared him about half of the debacle that was Atlanta’s 2020 season (and pretty much all of Frank de Boer’s tenure, come to that). Thus he was relatively unaffected by the malaise that fell over the team. Moreover, he came to a club that was sorely in need of a striker (Adam Jahn ain’t it) to fill in at least some of the Josef Martinez-shaped hole up front.

Obviously, scoring remained an issue for United all season, with the team scoring a paltry 1 goal per game. Gallagher managed just 1 goal every 245 minutes. But he only averaged 61 minutes per game, and was a sub in 5 of his appearances, and it’s not like he was provided with great service most of the time. Even so, when he played, there was a glimmer of the fun Atlanta teams we are all used to seeing.

What does he need to improve on?

That scoring rate will leave a lot to be desired if Atlanta manages to return to its former braggadocio self. Obviously he won’t be the preferred starter, but there are going to be times when he will be asked to step up and perform. He did that a few times already this season, and it could well happen again next year.

What role will he play in 2021?

He’ll be a backup, of course. And if Adam Jahn remains with the team, it’s unfortunately likely he’ll be a backup to a backup. On the other hand, if United pick up a coach with a liking for developing younger players (one of Stephen Glass’ few positives), that may not be an issue. And there is of course the evident desire on the team’s part to invest in him.

Overall player grade: B+