Update 1/19: It’s officially official. Paul McDonough returns to Atlanta United as Vice President of Soccer Operations. Welcome home, Paul!
#ATLUTD hires Paul McDonough as Vice President of Soccer Operations.https://t.co/Csfk5WdBCe— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) January 19, 2021
“Paul was a key part of our team as we built Atlanta United and we’re delighted to have him back in the organization,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. “Thanks to his experience across all levels of American soccer, Paul brings a vast knowledge of the game, but more importantly he is a great cultural fit who complements our front office. Similar to his previous role with the club, Paul will report to Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra and take on a leading role in managing our player salary cap.”
One of the most important yet unheralded figures in the history of Atlanta United looks to be on the verge of a return to the club, according to a report on Twitter from The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas.
Hearing that Paul McDonough will return to Atlanta United. McDonough previously served as Atlanta United's vice president of soccer operations and is expected to take on a similar role with the club.— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) January 6, 2021
Paul McDonough, who served as the club’s Director of Soccer Operations (and later as Vice President of the same department after a re-org), was one of the primary figures in building the club’s inaugural team in 2017 and MLS Cup winning side in 2018. His departure was announced in the summer of Atlanta’s league championship season.
He returns to Atlanta from Inter Miami where he served as the club’s Sporting Director, where his duties reportedly extended beyond pure roster construction that he was tasked with in Atlanta. According to Cardenas’s report, it sounds like he’d slot back into the position he vacated.
With the MLS Players Association never releasing either of the two normal salary guides in 2020 (I assume due to the absurdities caused by the unratified CBA and other obvious curveballs from last year), we don’t know exactly where Atlanta United’s roster stands in compliance with budget and registration rules. But based on reporting of some contracts and evidenced by the substandard results and individual performances last year, it stands to reason that the team will have a busy period of transactions ahead with McDonough at the helm prior to kickoff of the 2021 season.
This is a big deal. Huge deal. I imagine we’ll be seeing Atlanta doing some trades and transfers soon with McDonough having a rep as the best MLS budget manager in the world. https://t.co/f7OxKHHwDD— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) January 6, 2021
The move is literally and figuratively symbolic of the club president Darren Eales’s stated goal of aiming to make 2021 a “relaunch” of the club after a dismal 2020. It may take a bit of time, to make all the deals that will help get the roster back to the level of quality fans expect. But at the very least, McDonough’s presence would be like a warm blanket for supporters, knowing that the personnel in the front office is very well capable of assembling rosters capable of winning championships.