Today, Atlanta United 2 announced the official signings of three new players ahead of the 2022 USL Championship season. Defenders Nelson Orji, Raimar Rodrigues Lopes, and midfielder Nick Firmino have signed with the club, pending league and federation approval.
#ATLUTD2 announces three new signings!— ATL UTD 2 (@atlutd2) March 2, 2022
Welcome Nick Firmino, Raimar Lopes and Nelson Orji
Some fans have already gotten their first look at Firmino in the club’s last preseason match against South Georgia Tormenta FC. Firmino is a Brazilian-American midfielder who came up through the New England Revolution academy. The Mantena, Brazil-born 21-year-old signed a professional deal in November 2018. Two years later, Firmino made his professional debut for New England Revolution II on July 25, 2020, in USL League One. This past season, Firmino played with Union Omaha of USL League One. Overall, the midfielder has made 41 career appearances and tallied six goals and two assists.
Lopes is a left-back who most recently played in Brazil with Athletico Paranaense. The Manaus, Brazil native was a part of the U-20 side with Paranaense. He was sent out on loan in 2021 to Clube do Remo in the Brasilero Serie B. He made 13 appearances in 2021 while adding three appearances in the Copa Verde in 2022 for Remo.
Known to Brazilian fans as Raimar, the young left-back was previously rumored to be joining Atlanta United 2 earlier this winter.
Raimar, lateral esquerdo, que tem contrato com o Athletico até 30/04/2022, pode estar de partida para o Atlanta United, da MLS, em um primeiro momento para jogar na segunda equipe, que disputa a USL Championship. pic.twitter.com/grO5Mn68Qy— Michel Toti (@Michel_Toti) January 15, 2022
Orji (full name Orji Nelson Chukwuma) is a 19-year-old Nigerian central defender who joins Atlanta United 2. He is a product of Nigeria’s Super Star Football Academy before transferring to FC Porto’s academy, having played with their U-19 side. He was most recently on loan with Zalaegerzegi TE FC of Hungary. Last year, Orzi shared with Abiola Shodiya of AOI Football that he models his game after Virgil Van Dijk and Sergio Ramos and that he has lofty ambitions for his future.
“My dream in Europe is to play for Real Madrid and to be the most expensive African defender. Before I left Nigeria, I wrote all these things in a diary. I said to myself, Nelson, you must be Africa’s most expensive defender. I always believe that and I’m working towards it,” he said.
The club may add a few more players this spring but the roster is fairly set with plenty of academy talent waiting in the wings. They will be greatly needed as it looks unlikely they will be getting reinforcements from the first team until its own absences are resolved.
2022 Atlanta United 2 roster (as of Mar. 2, 2022)
Goalkeepers (2): Justin Garces*, Vicente Reyes
Defenders (4): Raimar Lopes, Aiden McFadden, Efrain Morales*, Nelson Orji
Midfielders (5): Nick Firmino, Ajani Fortune, David Mejia, Robbie Mertz, Jonantan Villal,
Forwards (1): Darwin Matheus
*- On Loan from Atlanta United
The 2022 USL Championship season begins on March 12 for Atlanta United 2 when they travel to Louisville City FC. The club’s home opener is on March 16 against New York Red Bulls II at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw.