Predicting Atlanta United’s roster moves

Los Angeles FC midfielder Daniel Crisostomo tries to slow down Atlanta United forward Erick Torres making the steal during the second half Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 1-0. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

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Los Angeles FC midfielder Daniel Crisostomo tries to slow down Atlanta United forward Erick Torres making the steal during the second half Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Atlanta United won 1-0. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

As a club in MLS, Atlanta United had a Tuesday deadline to inform the league which of its players are under contract, which players it will keep by exercising an option in their contract, which players it was letting go by not exercising an option, and which players’ contracts are expiring.

Most of Atlanta United’s players are under contract.

According to information released by the Major League Soccer Players Association, there are four players on the team who have options that can be exercised: fullbacks Brooks Lennon and Mikey Ambrose, goalkeeper Alec Kann and backup striker Erick Torres.

The team has no players whose contracts are set to expire and are eligible for free agency. That doesn’t mean that there are no players whose contracts are up, it just means that those players haven’t yet met the criteria to become free agents. Jake Mulraney and Jurgen Damm, who have played two years or less in MLS, would be an example, if their contracts are up.

It’s already known that these players are under contract in 2022: striker Josef Martinez, midfielders Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno, Luiz Araujo, Emerson Hyndman, Santiago Sosa and Franco Ibarra, centerbacks Alan Franco and Miles Robinson, fullbacks George Bello and Franco Escobar, Homegrowns Jackson Conway, Tyler Wolff, George Campbell, Efrain Morales, Machop Chol and Bryce Washington, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan. There may be others.

Predicting which of the remaining players Atlanta United will keep, and which ones they won’t:

Mo Adams, midfielder, $141,000

He would qualify for free agency and he wasn’t listed as a player with an option on his contract. So, he’s an inexpensive backup.

My prediction: Atlanta United keeps him.

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Mikey Ambrose, fullback, $81,375

The team has an option on his contract. He’s an inexpensive backup.

My prediction: Atlanta United keeps him because if George Bello is sold and Andrew Gutman recalled from Red Bulls, the team needs a backup...unless Machop Chol is going to be worked out there in attempt to get him playing time.

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Josh Bauer, centerback, $63,547

The team doesn’t keep most of its draft picks past one year and it doesn’t seem likely he will get any minutes with the first team next season.

My prediction: Atlanta United releases him.

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Jurgen Damm, winger, $1,582,509

If he has another year on his contract he needs to send his agent a gift. A likeable fellow, Damm has yet to produce anything for the team. He has yet to score and has four assists in 24 appearances. With Araujo ahead of him and Homegrowns needing time, he needs to go. The question is if his contract has more years, or if there is an option.

My prediction: He remains on the team because there isn’t another option yet.

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Alex De John, centerback, $81,375

The man played with a broken elbow so he deserves credit for that. He wasn’t listed as a player with an option on his contract but he also wouldn’t qualify for free agency.

My prediction: Atlanta United doesn’t retain him because Washington needs time with the first team.

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Franco Escobar, defender, $450,000

Remember him? Escobar spent this season on loan but it scheduled to return to Atlanta United for next season.

My prediction: The team works out a deal with Newell’s Old Boys for Escobar to stay.

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Alec Kann, goalkeeper, $115,000

A quality backup who could start for several MLS clubs.

My prediction: The team exercises the option on his contract and retains him.

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Brooks Lennon, fullback, $375,000

Fifty-five appearances, two goals and nine assists is a good return on that salary.

My prediction: The team exercises the option on his contract and retains him.

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Erik Lopez, striker, $508,300

I assume that he is under contract but he did arrive two years ago and, frankly, hasn’t done much. Part of his lack of production can be pinned on Gabriel Heinze moving him from striker to winger prior to this season. Still, the team is paying a lot and in return has one goal in 18 appearances. If the team sees Lopez as the back-up to Martinez, I think they keep him. If they view him as a winger.....

My prediction: If there is an option, the team won’t keep him, but I think he is under contract.

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Ben Lundgaard, goalkeeper, $81,375

His fate may depend upon Rocco Rios Novo’s loan status. If the team works out a deal to keep Rios Novo, it seems unlikely that Lundgaard will be kept. The team has gone through many third goalkeepers in its first five years.

My prediction: The team doesn’t keep him.

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Jake Mulraney, winger, $312,777

He wasn’t included among those players with an option but also doesn’t qualify for free-agency. It seems unlikely that he would have moved from Scotland and joined on a two-year deal. Still, two goals and four assists in 40 appearances. He makes things happen, but his salary is expensive for a back-up.

My prediction: He will remain an Atlanta United player.

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Matheus Rossetto, midfielder, $662,500

Similar to Mulraney, he wasn’t included among those players with an option but also doesn’t qualify for free-agency. It seems unlikely that he would have moved from Brazil and joined on a two-year deal. Still, looking at his salary and then watching him play, it’s hard to justify the cost in a salary-cap league.

My prediction: He will remain an Atlanta United player.

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Amar Sejdic, midfielder, $81,375

Acquired in a trade with Montreal, he appeared 10 times. With Hyndman returning and Homegrowns needing minutes, it will be surprising if he returns. He doesn’t qualify for free-agency.

My prediction: Atlanta United won’t retain him unless he is under contract.

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Erick Torres, striker, $81,375

The player many Atlanta United supporters don’t like because he has just one goal in 33 appearances. He was never supposed to be the second striker but that’s what he became when Lisandro Lopez left early in the season. He’s an inexpensive third striker but with Conway needing minutes and the team needing a bonafide backup it seems unlikely that the team keeps him.

My prediction: Atlanta United won’t retain him.

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