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Atlanta United 2021 ins and outs: Attackers

In part three, we turn to Atlanta United’s forwards and predict who will likely be part of the 2022 group.

SOCCER: OCT 27 MLS - Inter Miami CF at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In part three of our In’s and Out’s series, we close out the squad by looking at the all important attacking midfielders/wingers/forwards and giving our chances of who might stay and who might go.

Marcelino Moreno

Rob: When we talk about styles of play, it’s hard not to focus on what Marcelino brings to the table. Much of the criticism of Atlanta United has been the tendency of their attackers playing hero ball and not uniting as a collective. Well no one embodies this mentality more than Marcelino. Sometimes that can be a great thing. Like when he dribbles past six defenders and slots in a goal. But it can also be detrimental to the overall attack. Like when he attempts to dribble past six players while missing several simple passes in great space.

There’s no doubt that Marcie is a gifted individual talent. The question that pops into my mind, is if he’s the right fit for what the club is trying to accomplish as a whole. If the club wanted to move him, I could see there being suitors both domestically and abroad. In the end, he’s more likely to stay than go, but I don’t think it’s impossible that they decide to go in a different direction. Chances of leaving: 25%

Joe: Yeah I totally agree. For as good as he may be in being able to make his way past an opponent, his vision is poor and the ball sticks to him in the attack that hinders the ability of players like Josef, Araujo, etc. I can hardly recall Moreno playing a ball that has unlocked an opposing back line. If the club does end up keeping him (which is likely), I’d almost prefer him as a super sub who can come on and run at tired defenders. Chances of leaving: 15%

Ezequiel Barco

Rob: If not now, then when? He’s coming off the best and most consistent season of his pro career and his value has to be as high as it’s been in a while. It seems like the perfect time for player and club to move on. This is all assuming that there are clubs out there that want him and are willing to offer a reasonable fee ($10 million?) to get him. Chances of leaving: 60%

Joe: It’s really odd that there haven’t been any Barco rumors outside of that weird one with Club America last year. He’s been consistent all year long and I think has shown his quality. I have to imagine an acceptable bid will eventually come in. Chances of leaving: 90%

Luiz Araujo

Rob: The club just paid a crap ton of money for him and no one is about to come in and offer more. He’s here for a while, for better or worse. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Joe: Yep, one more full season at an absolute minimum (and if it does end up being one season, it means he wins all the awards and Atlanta is receiving offers they can’t refuse). Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Cubo Torres

Rob: What is dead may never die. He’ll likely get a promotion to Youth Director and get a lifetime contract. Chances of leaving: 0%

Joe: LMAO. The most mind-blowing stat involving any Atlanta United player is: Cubo Torres is 28 years old. Somehow. I’m at least happy for him that he was able to earn some cult legend status, but I’d be very surprised if he’s back. Chances of leaving: 95%

Jake Mulraney

Rob: He’s a useful role player and not taking up much room in the budget. Unless the international slot situation gets dire, he’ll probably be back. Chances of leaving: 5%

Joe: I think think international designation is going to hurt his chances of coming back. He’s kind of a “replacement level” quality of player in this league, and Atlanta may prefer to clear an international slot and try their luck with someone else of a similar profile. Chances of leaving: 66%

Jurgen Damm

Rob: Now the third highest paid player on the team, it’s clear that something must be done in the offseason to get him off the books. Whether that’s loaning him out or using the amnesty clause in the offseason to cut him into MLS oblivion, it seems inevitable that he’s gone. With that said, using logical reasoning in MLS can be dangerous sometimes. Chances of leaving: 95%

Joe: Ridding yourself of this godforesaken contract is a must for the club. Nothing personal. In fact, I think we all love Jurgen Damm for the person he is. But the business side of it couldn’t be any worse for Atlanta United. Literally. He’s paid the maximum amount of money possible without being a DP. Ending this contract will lift a huge weight off this roster. Chances of leaving: 99%

Josef Martinez

Rob: The only way I see Josef ever leaving at this point is if he decides to hang up his cleats. It’s been said a million times but Josef’s value to Atlanta United is astronomically higher than it is to any other club out there. A transfer seems impossible and his contract is still a ways away from being up. Let’s just hope we see a more confident and healthier Josef in 2022. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Joe: Josef clued us in during this season that he considered retirement, and you have to say that toward the end, it looked like such a slog for the guy that he may have been second-guessing his decision. I’m half-joking, but I just sure hope this offseason he is able to rest and eat super healthy and come back in the best shape possible that will give him the confidence back that permeated through the team from 2017-2019. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Jackson Conway

Rob: He seemed to be on the fast track to the first team but it just never really came off for him this season. While you’d think he’s a safe bet to come back next year, weirder things have happened. Homegrown Players seem to be easy-come-easy-go these days, so anything is possible. Still, I think he’ll be around for at least another season. Chances of leaving: 20%

Joe: Conway was a weird one because I’m still not sure exactly what he did so wrong that kept him off the field so much. I usually felt pretty optimistic when he was out there. But it was another year where he battled some injuries which has been a consistent theme for him so far in his young career. Chances of leaving: 10%

Machop Chol

Rob: Pretty much a carbon copy of Conway’s prognosis. It’s hard to believe that Chol was starting games on a somewhat consistent basis at the beginning of the year. That seems like a lifetime ago. It wouldn’t be shocking if he was not brought back, but he probably will be. Chances of leaving: 20%

Joe: I feel like Chol could use a loan or some regular playing time. I suppose he can always get that with the 2s, but I’m not so sure Atlanta doesn’t release him from the HGP deal and sign him on a USL contract. Chances of leaving 33%

Erik Lopez

Rob: I honestly forgot Erik Lopez existed until I saw his name on this list. That Young Money signing didn’t quite pan out, did it? The question now is what do you do with him? Seems highly unlikely you can sell him. Perhaps a loan to get him minutes elsewhere? Other than that, I’m stumped at how you open up his spot. But it needs to be done. Chances of leaving: 65%

Joe: 2020 really was a terrible year. Erik Lopez has only ever looked like a player more on the level of the 2s than the first team. I’m not sure what they can do to try to get this contract off the books, but it would be nice if it could happen. Chances of leaving: 40%