MLS free agents Atlanta United should consider

Orlando City's Benji Michel (19) leaps in front of Minnesota United's Osvaldo Alonso during the MLS is Back tournament at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Orlando City won, 3-1. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Orlando City's Benji Michel (19) leaps in front of Minnesota United's Osvaldo Alonso during the MLS is Back tournament at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Orlando City won, 3-1. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Credit: TNS

MLS teams can sign free agents beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Unlike in previous years, there is no limit to how many free agents a team can sign. In past year, teams could sign no more than two.

Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra has said that the team wants to add a couple of veterans to the roster who are familiar with MLS to add experience to a young a team.

“What we’d like to add is similar to what we spoke about last time, can we add a veteran or two to the roster to give us a little bit more game understanding, game management, understanding of the league situations, things like that to balance out some of the youngsters that are young, hungry, ready to fly and go forward every time, or sometimes we put our foot on the ball,” he said. “Guys that can be a little bit more vocal on the pitch in certain positions. So those those are the things that we’re looking to, to build upon.”

Here are a few players that the team should consider:

Ozzie Alonso

Position: Defensive midfield.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: ($322,000 while with Minnesota).

Age: 36.

2021 appearances/starts: 24/15.

Career appearances/starts: 338/317.

Goals/assists: 13/27.

Notes: Won the MLS Cup in 2016, U.S. Open Cup in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 and the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2014. ... Despite his age, he still ranked above average in several key defensive stats, including tackles (2.35 per game), interceptions (2.03 per game) and clearances (1.04 per game), and remains a capable and efficient passer.

Why? You want a veteran who knows MLS, knows Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda and is a voice in the locker room, well, they don’t come much better than Alonso. He could really teach Santiago Sosa and Franco Ibarra how to play the position.

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Will Bruin

Position: Forward.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $458,333 while with Seattle.

Age: 32.

2021 appearances/starts: 24/16.

Career appearances/starts: 286/216.

Goals/assists: 74/33.

Notes: Pineda knows Bruin and Bruin knows Pineda.

Why? Bruin would provide a different type of threat as a striker that Josef Martinez, and would be the quality backup the team has lacked. He averages 3.22 aerials won per 90 minutes. Bruin knows the league and would provide leadership.

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Sean Davis

Position: Midfielder.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $402,500 while with New York Red Bulls.

Age: 28.

2021 Appearances/starts: 34/34.

Career appearances/starts: 172/141.

Goals/assists: 4/23.

Notes: Is having discussions with Red Bulls about returning.

Why: Would bring a fire and knowledge of how to press opponents from his time spent at Red Bulls. He has vast experience in MLS and in the playoffs. He is a very good defensive player, performing well above peers in most defensive categories in the league.

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Sacha Kljestan

Position: Midfield.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $247,350 while with L.A. Galaxy.

Age: 36.

2021 appearances/starts: 31/13.

Career appearances/starts: 310/265.

Goals/assists: 43/97.

Notes: He is in discussions to return to the L.A. Galaxy. He had more than 150 appearances, including 14 Champions League games, with Anderlecht in Belgium.

Why? He has international experience, national team experience and MLS experience. Not the quickest cat but knows how to move the ball around quickly. A leader on the field. ... He completed 83 percent of his passes last season and averaged more than six progressive passes forward each game with an expected goals average of 0.26 per game and expected assists of 0.18.

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Justin Meram

Position: Winger.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $500,000 while with Real Salt Lake.

Age: 33.

2021 appearances/starts: 31/15.

Career appearances/starts: 295/201.

Goals/assists: 48/44.

Notes: He is discussions to consider returning to Real Salt Lake. Has national team experience with Iraq as well as vast experience within MLS, including with Atlanta United.

Why? He provides experience, leadership and knows Atlanta United’s culture. The only concern would be that Meram, like Ezequiel Barco and Marcelino Moreno, is typically most effective when he’s taking on defenders one-on-one. I think the team wants more balance with pass-and-move players.

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Daniel Royer

Position: Across the midfield.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $818,750 while with New York Red Bulls.

Age: 31.

2021 appearances/starts: 15/3.

Career appearances/starts: 127/94.

Goals/assists: 39/17.

Notes: International experience with previous clubs as well as MLS experience.

Why? He knows how to get into good positions to score. He knows how to help others score. He can pass and move well. However, he is coming off a season-ending injury and he makes too much, so those are the concerns.

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Kelyn Rowe

Position: Midfielder.

Last season’s guaranteed salary: $180,000 while with Seattle.

Age: 30.

2021 Appearances/starts: 34/24.

Career appearances/starts: 274/203.

Goals/assists: 30/45.

Notes: He knows Pineda and Pineda knows him.

Why: He’s versatile in a way similar to Julian Gressel when he was with Atlanta United. He’s inexpensive. He knows what Pineda wants. He’s experienced.

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