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Atlanta United selects centerback in MLS draft first round

MLS soccer balls sit on the field for Atlanta United and Monterrey in thier CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Atlanta.
MLS soccer balls sit on the field for Atlanta United and Monterrey in thier CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Atlanta United selected Michigan State’s Patrick Nielsen with the 23rd pick Thursday in the first round of the MLS draft.

Nielsen is a left-footed centerback and native of Denmark. He played his first two years in college at Cincinnati before transferring to Michigan State. He appeared in a total of 50 games.

Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said that Nielsen will start training camp with the first team. The team opens camp Monday.

Nielsen was among a group of players who participated in Atlanta United’s combine in December

He was All-Big Ten second team in 2019 and All-Big Ten first team in 2018.

Atlanta United is thin at centerback with the sale of Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, the retirement of Michael Parkhurst and the decision not to bring back Flo Pogba. The only true centerback on the roster with MLS experience is Miles Robinson. George Campbell, a Homegrown signing, will join the first team this season. He has yet to play in MLS.

The club announced earlier Thursday that striker Jon Gallagher’s loan to Aberdeen has been extended through the Premierships season and that midfielder Dion Pereira’s contract was mutually terminated. Neither player were expected to start for Atlanta United, but they add depth.

Here is the roster, currently containing 20 players: 
Mo Adams, WB/DM 
Ezequiel Barco, M/S 
George Bello, FB/WB 
George Campbell, CB 
Andrew Carleton, M 
Franco Escobar, CB/FB/WB 
Julian Gressel, M/WB 
Brad Guzan, GK 
Emerson Hyndman, DM/CM 
Alec Kann, GK 
Lagos Kunga, S 
Jeff Larentowicz, DM/CB 
Brooks Lennon, FB/WB/M 
Josef Martinez, S 
Pity Martinez, AM/S 
Brendan Moore, GK 
Luiz Nascimento, M/S 
Patrick Nielsen, CB*
Eric Remedi, DM/CM 
Miles Robinson, CB 
Hector Villalba, M/S

*Draft pick. Must sign contract.