Some international players that have jumped to MLS with the recent wave of expansion, like Kaká with Orlando City SC and David Villa with New York City FC, have made the jump and have had immediate success. For others, like Villa's NYCFC teammate, Frank Lampard, the jury's still out. As they build their squad, Atlanta United FC hope that they are able to strike gold and find players that can put them on the road to success. One name that caught my eye that would make for a good candidate for designated player status is one that is possibly putting a wrap on his career with Manchester United: Michael Carrick.
Carrick has been linked to MLS since shortly after he announced that he would not return to Man U when his contract expires this summer. He would provide a veteran presence in the midfield for AUFC if this happens to be his landing spot. He has deep experience with club and country (nearly 500 appearances at the club level; 34 caps with England men's national team), with a Premier League and UEFA Champions League under his belt, and has a strong set of skills that he can offer AUFC right off the bat, including his passing, awareness, and sharp defensive ability.
One thing that's evident about Carrick: he knows the game. At 34, there's likely not a ton of time left on his clock, but, with his knowledge of the sport, he can help groom the club's midfielder of the future and help set the vision of what the position would look like down the road - with Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal referring to him as "more or less" a "trainer-coach" back in May.
Again, Carrick's 34, so depending on how he feels in a couple of years, he could be close to hanging up the cleats. He has also had trouble remaining healthy throughout his career, his latest injury being to his ankle during a friendly against Spain that looked worse that it ended up being. He suffered another injury just this past January which sidelined him for a couple of matches. His body has certainly gone through a lot of wear and tear, and as he gets closer to retirement, that recovery time will begin to get longer.
It would be a good start for AUFC if they are able to pick up Carrick. He's not a global superstar in the veins of a Ronaldo or a Messi, and he's far from an offensive juggernaut, but he's a good building block for a club that will be looking for its identity when it hits the pitch for the first time.