We’re about a month away from the MLS offseason officially beginning. That glorious time of the year when the teams around the league start wheeling and dealing with one another to improve their respective rosters. While every club has the opportunity to sign players from around the world when the transfer window opens in February, there are other interleague trades that occur.
In this piece, I’m going to look at five players within the league that could be great trade targets for Darren Eales, Carlos Bocanegra and the rest of the technical staff. This will mainly address current projected team needs without assuming that loans will be extended or other signings will happen.
Here are five targets that would make sense for Atlanta United this offseason:
Sometimes a move just makes too much sense not to happen. Ever since the Expansion Draft last offseason we’ve been advocating a move for Veron from the Red Bulls. His ties to Argentina would likely help him fit in with Tata Martino’s squad. He played alongside Tito Villalba at San Lorenzo and would fit Atlanta’s high-octane attack with his blistering pace.
With Yamil Asad’s situation unclear, a left winger could be a vital need for the club this offseason. Veron has struggled since joining the Red Bulls in 2015, struggling to find a consistent spot in Jesse Marsch’s starting lineup. He’s making $500,000 a year and would likely need to be bought down with allocation money if acquired.
With Andrew Carleton waiting in the wings for minute, it would be nice to have someone like Veron who can start the season in the lineup until the youngster is ready to take the reins.
Manneh’s situation isn’t too dissimilar from Veron’s. He could desperately use a change of scenery to rejuvenate his career. His world-class pace would be a nice fit for Atlanta’s attack and he’s not too expensive with a $168k salary in 2017.
A few years ago Manneh was one of the brightest young players in the entire league. He’s hit the skids a bit the last two years but the talent is still there waiting to be tapped into. He could thrive in Atlanta and reach his full potential and even possibly bring in a transfer fee in the future.
Greg Garza’s loan is expired and who knows if he’ll be back. Chris McCann did an okay job filling in, but left back isn’t his natural position. Having someone like Tierney on the roster pushing whoever is competing for the starting job would be wise. He’s a veteran and proven commodity in the league. A consistently good performer with New England, his service from the left flank and on set pieces is an asset that would be useful.
Fullbacks will be a focus for Atlanta this offseason, Tierney is one of the better left backs in MLS and would be a great addition to the club. His $140k salary is manageable and if he ends up winning the starting spot, he’d be a great value.
This one is a bit complicated. Urruti makes tons of sense for Atlanta United to bolster their striker depth and add some dynamic attacking options. Another factor that would see him fit well here is that he was actually managed by Tata Martino at Newell’s Old Boys in 2012-2013.
All of that sounds like a great fit for both player and club, but there’s an issue of whether or not Urruti even wants to stay in MLS. Earlier this season there were reports that FC Dallas turned down an offer from San Lorenzo for Urruti. It was also reported that the Argentine was not happy with the club’s decision and that he wanted to be closer to home to be with his wife who is due to give birth in December.
If a transfer isn’t worked out and he’s forced to stay in MLS, perhaps a move to familiar surroundings with Tata would be a nice compromise for him? He’s a proven goal scorer and knows what Tata expects of his players. It could be a good move.
Jeff Larentowicz’s versatility was a huge asset for Atlanta United in 2017. We can only hope that the veteran has another year left in the tank. That’s something we won’t know until the season starts. How nice would it be to have another versatile player who can play both in the midfield and across the back line?
Amobi Okugo fits that mold. He can play holding midfielder and center back. The once promising U.S. youth international has found it difficult to find minutes in MLS the past two seasons. A change of scenery and chance for minutes is exactly what he needs to try and get his career back on track.
Depth was a huge issue for the club in its inaugural season. Someone like Okugo who can play multiple positions would be very important for next year’s playoff push.