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Analyzing Atlanta United’s moves under Carlos Bocanegra

January 25, 2019 Marietta - Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra speaks during a press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta on Friday, January 25, 2019. Atlanta United introduced Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez to the media on Friday during a formal press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The attacking midfielder was a key part of River Plate’s run to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title, South America’s top international club competition, and scored the final goal in River Plate’s 3-1 victory in Leg 2 against rivals Boca Juniors to win the final 5-3 on aggregate on Dec. 10. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
January 25, 2019 Marietta - Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra speaks during a press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta on Friday, January 25, 2019. Atlanta United introduced Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez to the media on Friday during a formal press conference at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The attacking midfielder was a key part of River Plate’s run to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title, South America’s top international club competition, and scored the final goal in River Plate’s 3-1 victory in Leg 2 against rivals Boca Juniors to win the final 5-3 on aggregate on Dec. 10. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

In the wake of Frank de Boer leaving Atlanta United as its manager, Vice President Carlos Bocanegra has come under scrutiny because it was he who was part of the hiring, and it was he who constructed the roster given to de Boer in the 2019 and 2020 MLS seasons.

It must be noted that the 2019 roster was good enough to win the Campeones Cup, U.S. Open Cup and advance to the finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Turning to this season, while the team has lost four consecutive games and hasn’t scored in almost 400 minutes, it’s premature to make a verdict because the team has played only five league games and no one would argue that this is a normal season. There hasn’t been enough time to see what the players signed this year can do.

President Darren Eales said Monday that he thinks the roster is full of talented players. They just need to be managed in a way that allows them to be aggressive.

So, to try to craft a more complete picture of Bocanegra’s eye for talent, let’s go back to see the players he has signed from before the first season until now ... with a caveat.

I’ve said frequently that Paul McDonough and previous manager Gerardo Martino should receive more credit for the team’s success its first two seasons. It played an attacking, exciting style that made the club of envy of MLS. It set records for goals and won the MLS Cup in 2018.

That credit is due to them because, in my opinion, there appeared to be a significant change to the strategy behind the players signed by the team after those two joined, McDonough on Aug. 28, 2016 and Martino on Oct. 3, 2016, and then it’s up to you (and their production the rest of the season) to decide about the players after those two left: McDonough in Aug. 2018 and Martino after that season.

It’s possible that with the right manager in place the signings made during the past two seasons and are still with the team will start to shine, or look better, depending upon your view of how they are playing.

In this chart, I’m going to outline the signings and personnel moves made made before McDonough and Martino, and then after. It won’t include players who have continued to sign one-year deals, such as Alec Kann, Jeff Larentowicz, etc.

Within the chart, you may see some players listed in the OUT section, but not in the IN section. That’s because they were signed when McDonough and Martino were with the team. Such players include Miguel Almiron, Julian Gressel, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Darlington Nagbe, for example.

Atlanta United signings under Bocanegra
Team moves made without McDonough and Martino