Atlanta United won’t add player before MLS tournament

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez fires a shot on goal against Motagua FC during the first half of soccer in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga. (John Amis/Special)
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Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez fires a shot on goal against Motagua FC during the first half of soccer in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga. (John Amis/Special)

Atlanta United isn’t expected to add a player before the MLS tournament in Orlando begins in early July, team Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said on Friday.

Bocanegra said the league is expected to open a signing window of 1-2 days that can be used by teams to sign players from their USL affiliates.

Bocanegra was asked if the team was going to try to sign someone to fill the gigantic gap left by Josef Martinez, who tore the ACL in his right knee in Nashville in early March. Bocanegra said Martinez is following the protocols of recovery but it’s a long-term process and there’s not much new information. Other than Martinez, Bocanegra said the remaining players are healthy.

Bocanegra said the team may sign someone during the summer transfer window, but said the league hasn’t revealed when that will be. He acknowledged that the quality of a player signed won’t be the same as that of Martinez, who was named league MVP during the Cup-winning season of 2018. Bocanegra has said in the past that the team’s budget within the MLS salary cap is tight.

“If there’s an opportunity to bring someone in and it makes sense then we will do that,” he said. “It’s not getting a player to get a player.”

Remaining strikers on the team’s roster are Adam Jahn and J.J. Williams. The team can also use Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco as strikers in some systems, but likely not as a single striker, which is how Martinez was primarily deployed.

“We feel confidence in all of our guys,” Bocanegra said. “They’ve got to earn it on the training field and when they get the opportunity to step up and earn it in a game.”

Bocanegra said because the team only recently resumed full training, there hasn’t been many opportunities to evaluate Williams, who joined the team after Martinez’s injury. Opportunities to work with Jahn have also been limited.

“It makes it a little bit strange going into a transfer window not knowing the strengths, weaknesses of our what our team fully looks like when we have a chance to gel,” he said. “That’s another reason we don’t want to force a person into the team in Josef’s spot at the moment.”