Who will Atlanta United sign next?

Los Angeles FC forward Bradley Wright-Phillips follows a play during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)
caption arrowCaption
Los Angeles FC forward Bradley Wright-Phillips follows a play during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo, Monday, July 13, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Credit: AP

Now that Atlanta United has fulfilled its No. 1 goal by adding some aged steel and leadership in its midfield with the signing of free agent Ozzie Alonso, who might the club attempt to next sign?

The transfer window has yet to open so right now the MLS franchise doesn’t have a lot of holes in its roster in its starting 11:

Striker: Josef Martinez

Attacking midfielder: Marcelino Moreno

Left winger: Ezequiel Barco

Right winger: Luiz Araujo

Midfielder: Santiago Sosa

Holding midfielder: Ozzie Alonso/Franco Ibarra

Left fullback: George Bello

Centerback: Alan Franco

Centerback: Miles Robinson

Right fullback: Brooks Lennon

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan

Things start to get as thin as dollar store Christmas wrapping paper when looking for impact subs or spot starts, though, when examining the remaining players current on the roster:

Striker: Jackson Conway or Erik Lopez (1 goal each in 2021; Lopez may be loaned out)

Attacking midfielder: Emerson Hyndman, recovering from ACL surgery, or Tyler Wolff

Left winger: Jake Mulraney (1 goal)

Right winger: Jurgen Damm (possibly moving to a club in LIGA MX)

Midfielder: Matheus Rossetto or Amar Sejdic

Holding midfielder: Alonso or Ibarra

Left fullback: Mikey Ambrose or Andrew Gutman, presuming he’s not loaned out

Centerback: George Campbell or Alex de John

Centerback: Bryce Washington or de John

Right fullback: Possibly Ronald Hernandez, if club can secure his rights from Aberdeen for a second consecutive season. If not, possibly Machop Chol, who is more of winger than a fullback.

Goalkeeper: Dylan Castanheira

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As you can see, there are a few holes that need strengthening.

Depth is an interesting pursuit for the club this pending season for a few reasons.

First, it is only participating in two competitions: the league and the U.S. Open Cup. It will enter that tournament in the third round, April 19-21, after the draw is held on April 8.

Second, in addition to fewer games because of fewer competitions, the schedule is stretched out so that most of the time the team is only playing one game each week. It will play just five midweek games. So, should a player suffer a minor injury or issue, they may only miss just one game, if any, instead of 2-3, as an example.

Having said that, 2023 will be crazy with the addition of the Leagues Cup, so Atlanta United may already be planning toward that an hoping to sign players this season that will be with the club for that competition in two years. Doing so, gives them a full season to develop chemistry, etc.

So, what are the positions Atlanta United needs to strengthen?

Backup striker is obvious. If Martinez must miss a game(s) there is no one on the roster who can step in and cause an opponent to worry.

Former Seattle players Will Bruin and Fredy Montero are available as free agents. Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda knows them from his time as an assistant at Seattle. Bruin has experience in the league and has scored 74 goals in 286 appearances. Montero may be a little too old and a bit too injured to help.

Other intriguing possibilities are former Columbus player Bradley Wright-Phillips, 36, who can still be impactful in limited minutes, former Colorado Rapid player Dom Badji, former Minnesota player Juan Agudelo, former Nashville player Abu Danladi, and Ayo Akinola, formerly of Toronto, would also be intriguing. He is currently reportedly being pursued by Vancouver.

There are also possible holes to fill at centerback. The team lost Anton Walkes in the expansion draft and needs someone with experience who can step in.

And if the team can’t secure Hernandez’s MLS rights, that position is thin, as well.

Or.....

It wouldn’t surprise me if the team doesn’t give the Homegrowns legitimate chances with extended minutes this season. Players like Campbell, Conway, Wolff and Chol need to show if they are capable of being impactful. They need consistent minutes to show that.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

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