Welcome to the final post of this three-part series where we discuss players that Atlanta United could bring in to fill some of the gaps in certain parts of the field. Last time, we talked about midfielders. Today, we’ll be diving into potential forward targets.
Cristian Arango - Colombia, age 27
Alright, listen, I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way LAFC are going to let go of this guy with the monster season he’s having at the moment. Well… during the summer, it actually looked like a genuine possibility. He wasn’t starting, he had a measly 2 goals by the end of May, and sources were saying that LAFC was listening to offers for the Colombian striker.
However, given his recent form, it’s entirely likely that the Black and Gold have changed their mind about moving him out. Either way, it can’t hurt to at least inquire about him given that Atlanta United could really use a striker of his caliber.
Ola Kamara - Norway, age 33
An MLS veteran and a prolific striker, Ola Kamara can bring much to Atlanta’s front line. Aside from being last year’s Golden Boot runner-up with 19 goals and 4 assists, he’s demonstrated excellent attacking instincts and sublime finishing ability that’s almost reminiscent of 2018-19 Josef Martínez’s finishing. Kamara has also appeared 17 times for the Norwegian National Team and scored 7 goals for the Lions. Kamara will officially be out of contract with DC United come December, so it presents a good opportunity for Atlanta to make an interesting addition to its attack.
The main issue with this signing is that Kamara primarily plays as a second striker, so he’ll play best beside either Josef, Cisneros, Dwyer or whatever other striker is with the team come next season. It would also mean a change of tactical setup since Gonzalo Pineda typically runs a front 3 with a single striker.
Dany Mota – Portugal, age 24
Here’s a player that, in contrast to many that I’ve named before, is actually already playing in Europe but might be open to a move to MLS. Dany Mota has been with AC Monza since 2019 and has helped the club ascend from Serie C up to Serie A where it’s competing this season. Mota has played five games with Monza in Serie A this season and has started in four of its 10 games (including in their 1-0 win over Juventus). He’s got great attacking instinct, good pace and a powerful shot on him as well. These are exactly the qualities that the Five Stripes could use to lead the offense next season.
Michael Barrios - Colombia, age 31
Another MLS veteran eligible for free agency at the end of the year, Barrios provides much width to the attack and has some delightful skill to his game. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 1,908 MLS minutes this season. He is able to run down the right flank and cause havok while also playing fantastic crosses into the box. While he’s admittedly not the most exciting player on this list, he’s eligible for free agency at the end of the season and Atlanta could probably get him on a decent contract to provide depth at the winger position.
Wanderson – Brazil, age 27
Here’s a Brazilian name for you. While the Five Stripes don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to the Brazilians they sign, this one may actually fit Atlanta’s system a bit better. In contrast to Luiz Araujo, Wanderson is more of a support winger. He has all of the qualities that Araujo has – the pace, the skill on the ball and the attacking mentality – except he’s more likely to pick up his head and pass the ball rather than dribble through tons of traffic to get a shot off. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a good shot on him, though. He currently has 6 goals in 18 appearances with Sport Club Internacional in Brazil’s Serie A. Back in 2016, he spent some time with RB Salzburg and where he recorded 3 goals and 9 assists. Would he likely have to be a DP signing? Probably, but I think it’d be well worth the necessary moves.
Pablo Solari – Argentina, age 21
Solari is my personal pick for a right winger. He has seven goals in 14 appearances for River Plate this season and is honestly so fun to watch. He’s got a similar profile to Araujo, but he looks better in nearly every area: dribbling, passing, shooting – you name it. He has a knack for finding the right space and making penetrating runs in behind. The Argentine connection with Almada could also yield some very neat results. He’s valued at around $6.6 million at the moment, so it’s definitely a doable move and the fans will surely enjoy watching him play, too.
Dániel Sallói - Hungary, age 26
A player with some good MLS and international experience, Sallói is a dynamic winger that plays well as an inside forward. This season he made 29 appearances for Sporting Kansas City during which he scored 7 goals and 4 assists. Last season was without a doubt his most successful as he scored 16 goals and bagged 8 assists. He also has four appearances for the Hungarian National Team. Sallói is quick to make runs in behind and he’s also capable of identifying diagonal runs and playing a teammate in. His shots are great and his crosses are pretty darn good as well. His contract with SKC runs out at the end of the season, so Atlanta could try to make a move for him as a free agent.
Derrick Etienne Jr. - Haiti, age 25
Here’s another player that’s been in the league for pretty much his whole career. Etienne is a player with speed and deadly attacking instinct. He’s a player that likes to get into the box and knows where to be for his teammates to find him and set up a chance. When he gets the ball in the box, he usually scores. His passing is excellent too with his through balls being very easy on the eye and creating exciting opportunities for his team on counter attacks. Ettiene had 9 goals and 6 assists in 33 appearances with the Columbus Crew this season and his contract with them runs out at the end of the year. If Atlanta moves quickly and gives him a good offer, the Five Stripes could find themselves with a serious asset up front.
Joao Rojas - Ecuador, age 25
Rojas is just so fun to watch. He makes scoring seem almost too easy. His skill with the ball is insanely good and watching him maneuver past four defenders with ease before pulling off a powerful shot is very exciting. Last year, he played with CS Emelec in the Ecuadorian Serie a Primera Etapa in the Copa Libertadores and scored 3 goals and 3 assists in just 5 appearances. He then transferred to Liga MX’s Monterrey where he so far only has an assist in 2 appearances. He also has 8 caps for Ecuador’s National Team. Overall, he’d add penetration to the attack and bring tons of excitement to fans.