Major League Soccer expansion team Charlotte FC selected English center back Anton Walkes from Atlanta United in the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday night. Atlanta United will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money in exchange for losing Walkes.
Walkes was part of Atlanta United’s inaugural 2017 roster as a loanee from English club Portsmouth FC. He returned to England after the 2017 season and made a permanent return to Atlanta United ahead of the 2020 season. (How was that almost two years ago? Time is broken.)
Walkes played a major role for Atlanta United throughout 2021, accumulating a team-high 2,276 minutes in 33 appearances and 32 starts in MLS play. When players left for international duty or were injured, Walkes helped keep the team grounded. He even donned the captain’s arm band when Brad Guzan went away on international duty with the USMNT.
This draft selection could throw an interesting wrinkle into what Atlanta United’s front office might have to do during the offseason in terms of bringing in center back depth. However, that depends on what happens with Miles Robinson, who is reportedly drawing interest from clubs in Europe. If Robinson does go, Atlanta United will be without two of its starting center backs from last season. That could provide a more feasible pathway for George Campbell to start getting more minutes in 2022 (especially if Atlanta plays in a back-four next season), but the leadership and locker room culture that Walkes is taking with him will undoubtedly hurt Atlanta.
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