Fabian Johnson.

Free-agent shopping list for Atlanta United

It’s Cyber Monday.

Hooray.

In the spirit of this hallowed, made-up day in which sales are advertised as unique but I’m pretty sure are the same as a few other times during the year, I thought it would be fun to give my shopping list of free agents and/or signings for Atlanta United.

None of these players would be considered Designated Players because Atlanta United has the maximum three DPs under the current CBA. None of those DPs can be bought down. Should a new CBA be agreed to, I’ll revise my list.

I’ll also say that most of those players are older than 30, which reflects the non-pursuit of DP-level younger players.

I’ll also point out that the probability of most of these players signing is close to zero percent.

It’s a fun exercise.

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Jeff Larentowicz

The 36-year-old defensive midfielder worked his way into an everyday starter for Gerardo Martino, and then did it again under Frank de Boer.

He’s a free agent. MLS teams are allowed to sign two free agents each offseason.

Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said two weeks ago that they want the starters at each position challenged. Larentowicz supplanted Eric Remedi late in the season. Mo Adams may also push both.

Larentowicz had a salary of $210,000 last season. That’s a bargain for a player who made 15 starts last season as part of 27 appearances. And, in the majority of his starts, Atlanta United posted shutouts.

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Ricardo Clark

If the team can’t, or doesn’t, re-sign Larentowicz, Clark might be a good buy. The 36-year old has only made 12 starts the past two seasons for Columbus. He’s an Atlanta native and MLS veteran who knows what’s needed to win. He had a salary of approximately $160,000 last season. He’s a free agent who, when healthy, is good enough for spot starts. Atlanta United has passed on him before. It seems likely the team will do so again.

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Leroy Fer

This is straight from Matthew Doyle and I think it’s an excellent suggestion.

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Justin Meram

Based upon what Bocanegra said about CBA concerns affecting negotiations for a long-term contract for Julian Gressel, re-signing Meram to anything close to last year’s salary ($679,000 approximately) seems unlikely.

So, if Atlanta United wants him back through free agency, it may be up to Meram to decide if he wants to return at what I would expect a much lower salary.

Meram energized Atlanta United’s offense during the summer. He slowed down a bit in the fall and lost his starting place in the playoffs. I think both were the result of formations. Meram started to slow down as the wear and tear of learning a new position as a wingback in a new formation took its toll. He lost the starting job after that formation changed.

De Boer two weeks ago said the team’s ability to switch from three in the back to four in the back is a strength to build on. Meram has the skills to play in either formation and knows the tactics. Plus, he’s a known commodity.

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Fabian Johnson

The 31-year old can play a variety of positions on the left or right. His international experience would make him invaluable in the Champions League. His contract with Monchengladbach expires in summer 2020. Because of his expiring contract, he possibly could be purchased for less than his market value of around $3 million and bought down so as not to be a DP.

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Ventura Alvarado

The 27-year-old centerback would be a nice partner with Miles Robinson. This, of course, assumes that for some reason Leandro Gonzalez Pirez isn’t returning. I think Gonzalez Pirez will return and should return. He’s playing a lot for Necaxa, which seems unlikely to sell him. His experiences in Mexico would make him valuable for Champions League. George Campbell isn’t yet ready to move into the starting lineup. 

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Miguel Layun

Like Johnson, the 31-year old can play as a fullback or midfielder on the right or left. Like Johnson, his market value of $3 million makes him attractive. His experiences in Mexico, England, Spain and Portugal make him even more valuable.

I don’t think Monterrey will want to sell him based upon how much he is playing, but the club may want to receive money for him now rather than letting him play out his contract. I’ve always been a fan since he played for Mexico at the Georgia Dome.

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About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.
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