Atlanta United Q&A: Transfer window presents issue

October 30, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez looks on as Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg deflects the ball during the first half in the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
October 30, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez looks on as Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg deflects the ball during the first half in the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

It’s time to open the Atlanta United mailbag:

Q: With transfer windows and money all kinds of weird now, should we expect (Ezequiel) Barco and Pity (Martinez) to both finish their seasons with Atlanta? Prior to this, I assumed one, if not both, would be sold on for profit. 

A: This question perhaps best gets to the heart of all of the uncertainty right now. The short answer is, in my opinion, yes. They will finish their seasons here. While I think it probable that MLS will return by the summer, I don't know about leagues in Europe, which are where the clubs are headquartered that would likely be the ones acquiring either player. Prayers to those countries.

Another factor is if MLS is bent on playing each team’s remaining 32 games, those games are going to come fast and Atlanta United will need every player it has to get through what will be extremely tough stretches. Remember last year, when the team played eight games in 31 days or something like that. It’ll be like that again.

Q: Any updates on discussions with free agent or striker/forward signings during this down period? Or is the club allowed to contact anyone in this period? 

A: Right now, there isn't word of anything because everything is on hiatus.

Once the MLS season resumes, I assume the transfer/trade windows will open at their regularly scheduled times. The issue, as noted above, is each team is going to have a lot of games in a short time. They may not be as willing to part with a player as they once were.

The next window opens July 7 and closes August 5. If the season is well underway by then, some teams may already be out of the race and more willing to trade a player.

Q: Who would the best team that Atlanta United could beat from a European league? 

A: Fascinating to ponder, no?

There’s a joke about Manchester United brewing in my brain but it’s not coalescing just yet.

If played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Atlanta United is completely healthy, I think it could play competitive games against most teams outside of the most of the Big 6 leagues in Europe. I’m sure it could compete with a few Premier League clubs and a few from Germany, Italy and Spain, but it would be very few.

The difference, and you should recognize this point because it’s made about the CONCACAF Champions League, is the difference in monies available to each club.

Take Aston Villa, which is in the relegation zone in England’s Premier League.

You figure that team isn’t any good or it wouldn’t be in the relegation zone.

With apologies to Chris Winkler, surely, one of the worst first division clubs in England would be a good opponent for Atlanta United?

Aston Villa spent $175 million dollars on talent last summer. $175 million.

Just because it was spent doesn’t mean it was spent wisely. Otherwise, the team wouldn’t be in the relegation zone.

But it does show how much talent can be bought and the gulf between MLS and the Premier League.

Q: What is Kevin Kratz doing? 

A: Kratz is doing well. He and his family members are safe right now in this uncertain time.

He’s considering getting into coaching and training.

Should he do so, and you have a player who needs help, I would look to him.

Kratz was always very good at explaining technical details about strategy and was a very good player. It’s a shame that injuries robbed him of his last year with the club.

Q: With Josef Martinez having his ACL done by the same doctor that did Zlatan’s. Do you see him coming back with that same tenacity? Or pumping the brakes and taking it a little easy? 

A: I don't think Josef Martinez knows how to pump the brakes.

When he returns, I think you will see the same tenacity. You may not see the same results at first because I assume it will take time for him to have the same confidence in his knee and leg.

Q: There was a little rumor that Michael Parkhurst my get into the coaching ranks with Atlanta United or elsewhere. Any updates or perhaps a better question, which player most likely to be first coach: Jeff Larentowicz, Brad Guzan, Parky? 

A: I think Parkhurst is serving in a mentor role for some of the younger players with the club and with Atlanta United 2 right now.

He said in a few interviews last year after he announced his retirement that he doesn’t want to get into coaching anytime soon. He wants to spend time with his young kids and wife. Coaching doesn’t allow for that.

I think Kratz will be the first player to get into coaching. I can’t find that I wrote it, but I believe he told us that he already had a few levels of his coaching licenses, or was working on them.

Q: I just want to let you know that in the last few months you have become the No. 1 source of accurate reliable information concerning my team. If I read/hear something and wonder if it's true, I look up your Twitter feed. If you say it, then I know it's true. Thanks for all you do. 

A: This wasn't a question but it made me feel good and it's my blog so I included it. Thank you for reading and taking the time to send me a sweet message.

Q: Have the injured players George Bello, Franco Escobar, Miles Robinson been able to continue their rehab at the training center? Or has it been closed entirely? If it is open, which activities have the players been able to take part in to keep fit and maintain good diets. 

A: MLS has allowed injured players to rehab at their club's facilities.

I’ve asked several times for updates on the injured players but no answers have been provided.

Look for a story about how the players have taken care of their nutritional needs next week, I hope.

Q: My question is in regard to Josef. Is there a timeline from the front office for his recovery at the moment? 

A: No, but we haven't spoken to a member of the front office in two weeks.

Even if the playoffs are pushed into November and the MLS Cup in December I would be surprised to see him return before the 2021 season.

Q: I’m always curious as to players taking up roots in their cities around MLS? Do most players buy houses and try to raise a family in their city or do they rent and go back “home” in the offseason? I was curious of this with NHL when Thrashers were here too. 

A: Great question.

Most Americans typically stay in their club’s city.

I believe a percentage of the internationals return to their home countries.

MLS had a very long offseason between 2019 and 2020 that made this possible.

Q: How is the club helping new players like Matheus Rossetto? He couldn't have had much time to find a place to live or much of a community to feel a part of. Does he have family here to relieve the monotony of being away from football? I am assuming he can't go home due to league mandate. 

A: The club does have employees who help the players acclimate by helping them find residences, get phones, turn on utilities, get drivers licenses, etc.

At one point in its first season, the club was providing English lessons for some of the players who didn’t know the language.

I don’t know if that still occurs.

Q: Do you think MLS could afford to have any games without fans? 

A: It could. MLS Commission Don Garber told ESPN that playing behind close doors was one option the league was considering

I would be very surprised if the owners would vote in favor of that, though. That’s a lot of lost revenue. The optics, which the league and clubs like Atlanta United are hyper aware of, also wouldn’t be good.

Q: Thoughts on the striker situation - is a big trade still in the works? 

A: I've offered my services to the highest bidder. I'm still writing.

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