01/13/2019 -- Marietta, Georgia -- Members of the Atlanta United soccer team practice at their training facility at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, Monday, January 13, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

Atlanta United using time to scout deeper and wider

Atlanta United’s scouts can’t watch games live because, well, there aren’t any being played.

But, thanks to technology that the club invested heavily in, the team is still able to look for “shadow” players at every position, including a striker to fill-in for the injured Josef Martinez. Whether it can buy or trade for a player is a question that can’t be answered because of ongoing complications created by COVID-19.

“We will just have to see where we are when we return, what the roster rules are when we come back, and we will adapt accordingly,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said Monday.

From its first roster build before its inaugural 2017 season, Atlanta United has used data to help identify potential players of interest and then used video to get a better idea if the data is on-point, or is missing context.

Whether the question is asked of Eales, vice president Carlos Bocanegra or manager Frank de Boer, the response to whether the club is looking to sign a particular player is that the club is always looking to strengthen itself

Asked if the team is looking to sign a striker to replace Martinez — the club has played only two if its 34 leagues games, and Martinez is expected to miss the rest of the season — Eales said the club is always looking for “shadow players,” those who can step in should the team suffer an injury or execute an unexpected sale.

Eales said the team typically has focused on players, clubs and/or leagues that the team felt would translate well to Atlanta United and MLS. Because of a lack of time and resources, that scope has been relatively narrow, considering that there are more than 40 domestic leagues around the world.

Time is now on Atlanta United’s side.

“What this time gives us now is a lot more time to look globally and perhaps look at other leagues that we may have ignored because we didn’t have time to get to,” Eales said. “I’m quite excited about our ability to extend our scope and do some more work in that respect.”

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