Atlanta United played to a scoreless draw with Inter Miami in the two clubs’ first-ever meeting on Wednesday night. This may be my usual post-match thoughts column, but I’m not going to talk about the match itself. I think we can all agree it was terrible and we learned very little. Instead, let’s talk about the club itself and the direction its heading. There have been some happenings recently and there’s a lot to discuss. Here we go.
- Pity Martinez appears to be gone. The club has agreed to a reported $18 million transfer fee with Saudia Arabian club Al-Nassr for the former South American Player of the Year. All that’s left is for Pity to pass a medical and agree to personal terms with his next club. This deal was simply too good to pass up for Atlanta United. They not only recoup their initial investment but even possibly turn a small profit from the deal. Considering all the factors, including Pity struggling for long stretches in his 1 1⁄2 years in Atlanta, that fact is pretty impressive. When an offer like that comes, it’s a no-brainer. This sale opens some doors for the Five Stripes financially and roster wise. Pity will be missed, but it’s a merciful end to the relationship that never could get into a steady rhythm.
- Darren Eales has not only confirmed that the transfer is happening but has also made it public that the club will be looking to fill the vacated Designated Player slot in the current transfer window that closes in October. The message from Eales is clear: they are not conceding anything when it comes to this season and will be going for it. This is an interesting position for the front office to take. They will need to be very careful how they handle this decision. It’s obvious that the current roster needs some help and they need it in multiple positions. However, the club needs to make sure that whoever they decide to fill the DP slot with is either a bonafide star that any manager can work with or a short-term solution that won’t handicap future decisions.
- I appreciate the front office’s eagerness to want to win every year. But I’m just not sure this roster has what it takes to win this season. After a string of bad personnel decisions, the club have put together a nice little streak of two
goodgreat decisions in a row. Parting ways with Frank de Boer was a logical decision that was taken with impressive expedience. Accepting the bid for Pity Martinez was another smart decision. But now is not the time for hasty decisions, as the wrong move has the potential set you back even further. Personally, I don’t foresee Stephen Glass being the long-term solution as Atlanta United’s manager. He’s done the job required of an interim manager just fine. But this club has lofty expectations and ambitions. Logic tells us they likely have bigger plans to fill that position with someone who can implement a clear style of play that energizes not only the players and fans but the whole club. Making another Pity Martinez-esque signing that doesn’t fit the plans of whoever is coming to fill the manager’s chair would be unwise to say the least.
- Unless the club has their sights on the next can’t-miss, Miguel Almiron type of superstar signing that would fit any manager’s plans, the DP signing will hopefully be a short-term solution for a position of need. Whether it’s a striker, attacking creative player or a holding midfielder, the front office needs to make sure it doesn’t handicap the next manager. They could simply do that by luring in someone with a one-year deal with some sort of option on the end, or even a loan.
- While I understand wanting to be patient in finding that next manager to regain the excitement that hasn’t been there since 2018, that philosophy doesn’t seem to mesh with their current win now attitude. Finding that manager should be priority number one, not rushing to fill the DP spot in the off-chance you can get the fifth seed in the playoffs and possibly make the second round. The ambition of this club has been winning trophies. Does one good player really give this current setup a chance to win MLS Cup? I highly doubt it. I think the majority of fans would understand the decision to be patient on all fronts if it gives the team a better chance at success in the long-term. The manager is the foundation of any great team. Tata Martino proved that. Work on the foundation first and then start placing the pieces on top.