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Atlanta United 2022 ins and outs: Goalkeepers & Defenders

Offering our opinions on the chances that each player at the back could leave the club in the offseason.

SOCCER: SEP 10 MLS - Toronto FC at Atlanta United Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta United’s playoff hopes are officially over. So, effectively the offseason has already begun. The inevitable roster transition is only a matter of days from beginning. A dismal 2022 season has everyone wondering what personnel changes are coming to get the Five Stripes closer to being relevant again. Let’s use some deductive reasoning and gut feelings to put a percentage on the chances that your favorite (or least favorite) player will leave and break your heart. In this three-part series, we’ll go through the entire roster and guess how likely it is a player will leave before the start of next season. It’s important to note that contract info is not readily available in most cases and we’ll be guessing at a lot of the statuses of players heading into the winter.


Brad Guzan

Rob: You never really know what you have until you are without it. While Brad is certain regressing in his career, the difference at the goalkeeper position with him out of the picture was stark. While the need for a long-term succession plan is needed now more than ever, it certainly seems like the job is firmly in his grasp for at least next season. He’s certainly not leaving and doesn’t seem like retirement is a possibility. Chances of leaving: 5%

Joe: You nailed it. The only thing I’d have some speculation about is whether Guzan will be the guy predominantly between the sticks next season. He’s not going anywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Atlanta decides to grab a goalkeeper this offseason that they expect to play a bulk of the games. I’m just nervous about how the injury is going to affect his ability in goal. Chances of leaving: 2%

Raul Gudino

Rob: Everyone’s favorite backup didn’t set the world on fire when finally given the keys by Gonzalo Pineda. But he also didn’t do terribly as well. If the club pick up his option he seems like a fine backup for Guzan. But do they really want to waste an international spot on a backup goalkeeper? Who knows, really? Chances of leaving: 60%

Joe: It’s hard to see Gudiño back unless 1) he is the guy I reference above who is the expected starter for most games or 2) he gets a green card. Because you’re right, it’s a non-starter if he’s mostly on the bench. Ultimately, he was a guy to come in as an emergency to try to stop the bleeding. Chances of leaving: 85%

Rocco Rios Novo

Rob: We all wanted Rocco to be the answer. Maybe we wanted it a little too much. While he’s still very young for a goalkeeper, his physical stature is undeniably a hinderance, especially in a league like MLS. Pineda may adore him, but it’s hard to see him back in Atlanta next season after losing the starting job and no pathway to the spot open in 2023. Chances of leaving: 85%

Joe: I think there’s slightly more of a chance of RRN returning, but it wouldn’t be in anything close to the role we saw him in this season. I’d see him more as competition among the Atlanta United 2 goalkeepers, which is honestly the kind of player he should be compared against seeing as he’s a 20-year old goalkeeper. That said, Atlanta has Justin Garces (22 years old) and Vicente Reyes (18 years old) already in the pipeline who are arguably just as promising. His American citizenship is really the only thing that gives me a semblance of consideration that he could return. Chances of leaving: 80%

Dylan Castanheira

Rob: Dylan suffered a season-ending injury as well or likely would’ve gotten some looks with the first team after Guzan went down. Every club needs a third goalkeeper, but Atlanta United never seem to keep one for more than one season. My guess is they’ll let him explore other options but it’s impossible to say for sure. Chances of leaving: 55%

Joe: Too much risk here with the injury to justify re-signing him to the first team. Potentially could play with Atlanta United 2, but the club has the luxury of re-assigning him there as where they do not with Guzan (both coming off Achilles ruptures). Chances of leaving: 85%


Aiden McFadden

Rob: This is a very interesting one. McFadden filled in for Brooks Lennon and did a fine job. Aside from the constant barrage of crosses that Lennon offers, Aiden may be more of an attacking threat overall. If the club are looking to cut costs perhaps making this transition full time is the way to go. Even if not, he seems like a fine utility player to have on the bench. Chances of leaving: 20%

Joe: What percentage did we put on Jon Gallagher back in the day? I kid, though the two players have taken remarkably similar tracks at Atlanta United. Atlanta basically has McFadden locked in on cheap contracts for the forseeable future (unfortunately for the player), so they either get value that way or through that or in allocation another team would be willing to part with for his cheap contract. But I think Gonzalo Pineda really values McFadden’s character and mentality and prefers to keep him around. Chances of leaving: 10%

Caleb Wiley

Rob: According to reports, Europe is already nibbling. If a tempting offer comes in for him, I think you have to consider it. With Andrew Gutman already here and looking like someone you want to build around, it doesn’t make sense for Wiley to come back and be a rotational piece again when he’s ready for a bigger role in his development. Chances of leaving: 45%

Joe: This is where it gets tough. Is Caleb Wiley’s value more likely to rise or fall if he stays at Atlanta United next season (assuming Gutman stays healthy and plays 90%+ of games)? Gonzalo Pineda found a way to shoehorn both players into his lineup, but it was a makeshift option and probably not something you want to keep on a regular basis. If Wiley’s minutes are inconsistent next year, will that inconsistency translate to his play on the field? I don’t know. There are obviously ways to utilize him, and as a homegrown he is basically free wrt the Salary Budget. If you sell him, the club keeps the cash, but it only grows the allocation money pot by $1.1 million (a useful amount, to be sure). Chances of leaving: 33%

Bryce Washington

Rob: Bryce appeared 18 times for ATL UTD2 this season and hasn’t really seemed close to cracking the first team. Shockingly, he’s already 24 years old. If the club don’t see some kind of role for him in MLS next season it seems like it may be time for him to test the market. Chances of leaving: 50%

Joe: I don’t see it. It’s not like his impressed a ton with the 2s. I imagine Noah Cobb will essentially slot into his homegrown position. Chances of leaving: 75%

Juanjo Purata

Rob: Atlanta United announced that they have an option to extend Purata’s loan move for next season when they signed him in July. At the very least they would be crazy not to exercise that. While he’s not an LGP centerpiece type of player, he’s certainly a great influence in the dressing room and a more than serviceable defender. As long as the price is right, he’s a no-brainer to bring back. Chances of leaving: 5%

Joe: Yep, no question. I think if they didn’t bring him back, Pineda might quit out of principle. Chances of leaving: 1%

Alan Franco

Rob: The enigmatic defender definitely splits opinion, but we can all agree he seems to have improved drastically as the season went on. It seemed like his turn in form coincided with the arrival of Purata as well. His return next season is hard to pinpoint as he was brought in for a specific style under a different manager. It’s very possible the club could look to make a change if it makes sense for the system Pineda is attempting to implement. Chances of leaving: 40%

Joe: I’ve kind of been holding this opinion in, but I actually think it’s pretty unlikely that Franco moves, which will surely anger some people. When he’s out of form, he makes bad errors. Like really bad. When he’s good, he’s very solid. But the main reason I think he stays is that I don’t see how Atlanta would be able to find a suitor for him that will pay what Atlanta would need to justify it. Chances of leaving: 20%

Ronald Hernandez

Rob: While he appeared 13 times for the club this season, his role just never seemed very clear. Is he really happy being the backup right back? Do the club see him as replacement for Brooks Lennon if they decide to move on? There are more questions than answers when it comes to Ronald in Atlanta. Chances of leaving: 50%

Joe: This one feels to me like a perfect opportunity for the club to move a player on in attempt to free up some cap space. He’s a capable MLS fullback, but the club has McFadden coming through who would be better off getting some of those minutes. Would free up an international slot as well. Chances of leaving: 70%

Miles Robinson

Rob: In an alternate universe we are dreaming of Miles having a great World Cup and talking about a move to Dortmund or West Ham. But in this bitter reality we live in we are patiently waiting on his recovery from a season-ending injury. It seems a sure bet he comes back to Atlanta to prove he’s healthy before exploring transfers again. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Joe: Yep, nothing to add here. Best case scenario is Atlanta has Robinson playing at/near his best and anchoring a back line that has experience together. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

Andrew Gutman

Rob: Technically, Gutman has been under contract with Atlanta for two seasons, so it’s anyone’s guess what his status is. However, if the club have the final say in his fate for next season he has to be back. He established himself as one of the most important players in the team and someone you can build your style and culture around. Chances of leaving: 5%

Joe: No doubt. And only counted $330k against the cap last year to boot. Versatile, leader, mentor, fan favorite, bald. He’s got it all. Chances of leaving: Less than 1%

George Campbell

Rob: It was a rollercoaster of a season for the 21-year-old Homegrown Player. He appeared 20 times and saw mixed results. The potential for great things are there, but will he get the chance to continue to develop here if the injury bug isn’t as fierce in 2023? Seems unlikely. Chances of leaving: 25%

Joe: I hope Campbell stays and can start to get regular games with the 2s alongside Noah Cobb. Just keep molding these homegrowns within the system. Campbell is still a really young player and growth is not linear. He had some learning experiences this year that can make him better in the future. Best case scenario is maybe after 2023, you can afford to sell Alan Franco coming off of a MLS Cup winning season and George Campbell is ready to slot right in without the need to spend big money on a transfer to replace. Chances of leaving: 10%

Brooks Lennon

Rob: Aside from Josef Martinez’s inevitable offseason saga, Brooks Lennon’s return may be the most contentious and dramatic. We all know that Lennon puts up good chance creation numbers on paper, but the question still remains: Does he fit Pineda’s system? According to the MLSPA, Lennon has an option on his contract but it’s unclear if it’s a club option or a player option. If they club believe he is the player to fit they system they’ll likely try to bring him back. If they don’t, they’ll likely look to upgrade. Chances of leaving: 40%

Joe: That should be a club option, and ultimately I do see Lennon back — though it’s not certain. The club will just have to determine what role he will play next year — winger or fullback. If they don’t see him as a fullback, then he could be shopped after his option is picked up. I don’t think you will see the team decline the option, though his price is not cheap at a $500k salary last season. Chances of leaving: 25%

Alex DeJohn

Rob: Every team needs a rotational defender to just be there when things go terribly wrong and Alex is perfect for that role. He’s good at just being there. Whether he’s here or not next season seems totally up in the air and down to the numbers game. Chances of leaving: 50%

Joe: So what you’re saying is you know when shit has hit the fan when you see Alex de John. Yeah this is one where I think the club will let him go off the roster at least to begin the offseason, and they could then opt to re-sign him at a later date if needed and he’s still available. Chances of leaving: 75%

Efrain Morales

Rob: Still just 18 years old, Morales appeared 23 times in USL this season. His development seems to be on a steady track and perhaps he could see some opportunities with the first team next season as a rotational piece. Chances of leaving: 5%

Joe: Morales remains an enigma and a project player, but one that the club has no reason to give up on at this stage (unless there’s something they are seeing as they scout him internally). Chances of leaving: 5%

Mikey Ambrose

Rob: Our favorite boy scout is a free agent! Let the bidding war commence. Mikey appeared just two times this season for the club. It seems a certainty he’ll be gone. But I said the exact same thing last offseason after he appeared four times and was wrong. So, who the hell knows? Chances of leaving: Who the hell knows?

Joe: I think Ambrose’s watch has ended. He seems like a guy who could go into coaching if that’s something he wants to do as he’s apparently been a mentor for Caleb Wiley. Chances of leaving: 95%