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Atlanta United’s next steps after the MLS transfer window closes

Despite a rumor involving a former Premier League star proving to be nothing more than that, that’s not to say they’re completely devoid of options, though

Soccerex Global Convention - Day 1 Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images for Soccerex

After the Eric Remedi signing, if you were expecting Atlanta United to potentially take advantage of the secondary transfer window to add another piece to its roster during the stretch run of the season before midnight Thursday, you’re feeling a little disappointed today: the club opted not to do so. It would be fair to expect them to since their defense is a little banged up. On the other hand, this off weekend probably comes at a good time because it’s a chance to get some players - read: Greg Garza - further along on the road to match fitness. (More on Garza later.)

First things first, the key thing to remember is that a club won’t want to make a move simply for the sake of making one. A few things have to be considered: will said player fit into a new system? Will he gel with his new teammates? Is a move even worth making if you have assets already available to you? I think that’s some, if not all, of the factors, Darren Eales and the front office kept in mind. Regardless, with Garza, Mikey Ambrose and Sal Zizzo banged up, adding depth - even if it’s a “warm body” in a just-in-case scenario - should be high on the list, and even if the transfer window is closed, it’s still doable.

Nothing to the Sagna to Atlanta rumor

We did see a potential (and big) name come up earlier in the week. Twitter was abuzz with the possibility of former Premier League star and French national Bacary Sagna heading to Atlanta United, even if it were as a “rental” (if you will) for the remainder of the regular season and through the MLS Cup Playoffs. But it proved to be nothing but a rumor. On Wednesday night, Montreal Impact announced that it had signed the ex-Arsenal and Manchester City man to a deal that included an option for next season. In a way, it makes sense: Montreal had an international slot open that Atlanta didn’t readily have and were looking for extra help on its backline, ultimately making the decision to unite Sagna with fellow countryman Remi Garde.

So can Atlanta not add a player from outside the club anymore?

With the transfer window closed, Atlanta can neither make trades with other MLS teams nor add players from other leagues. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t make any additions at all: free agents and other out-of-contract players can sign with any MLS club up until September 14, the league’s mandated roster freeze day.

Atlanta already have a few options for depth

With that in mind, it’s not as if Atlanta United are completely out of options. It can always look to ATL UTD 2, where youngster Jose Hernandez has seen some spells of playing time in the USL (9 appearances) in between international duty. He probably won’t start and will be good for maybe 20 minutes or so over the back end of a few matches, but it’s something that the big club can consider. One caveat: he would require an international slot, which should be achievable if Atlanta want to throw some cash a club’s way (or if a certain Argentinian centerback gets his long-awaited green card). One player that has split time with ATL UTD 2 and the first team: Miles Robinson, who should stand to crack the 18 more often than not until Atlanta get a little more healthy. Teenager George Bello, despite being hampered by injury and limited to just a handful of USL appearances, made his first appearance on Atlanta United’s bench against Toronto FC this past Saturday. He will get some more seasoning with ATL UTD 2 down in Charleston this weekend and could rejoin the first team against Columbus on the 19th as he will begin training with them exclusively, per Tata Martino.

In short, while an ideal scenario would have involved Atlanta transferring a player in while the secondary window was open, don’t completely rule a move out. There are several players already in the system that it can use, and if it chooses to snag an out-of-contract player, it can do so in the next month-plus. But with ten games left in the regular season, the club will want to be sure it has things tied up on its roster as it pushes for the Supporters’ Shield and a potential shot at the MLS Cup.