Atlanta United signs Moreno as designated player

Marcelino Moreno of Argentina's Lanus, center, fights for the ball, surrounded of players of Peru's Sporting Cristal during a Copa Sudamericana soccer match in Lima, Peru, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Though he likely will play in only a few games this season, Marcelino Moreno was signed to bring some aggressiveness and leadership to Atlanta United, according to Vice President Carlos Bocanegra.

Atlanta United announced the signing of Moreno as a Designated Player on Tuesday. Neither the transfer fee nor the financial terms of the contract with Moreno were disclosed. Bocanegra said that Atlanta United acquired Moreno at the team’s valuation. The money came from the sale of Pity Martinez.

Moreno will join the team as soon as his visa is approved and he successfully completes a 10-day quarantine. Bocanegra said he hopes that Moreno will join the club in 2 1/2 to 3 weeks.

A 25-year-old attacking midfielder, Moreno was acquired from Lanus in Argentina. He is a player that Bocanegra said they spotted while on another scouting trip and then kept tabs on. Lanus is the same club from which Atlanta United signed Miguel Almiron. Bocanegra declined to compare the two players, saying it wasn’t fair. Almiron was sold to Newcastle in England’s Premier League after helping Atlanta United win the MLS Cup in 2018.

“Can’t expect him to come in and save the day when gets here,” Bocanegra said of Moreno. “I do think he will have a big impact for us.”

Moreno is a box-to-box, quick player who can turn defense to offense. Bocanegra said that Moreno has great balance and ability to slice through lines of defense with the dribble or by passing. Moreno likes to play balls in behind lines or to combine with teammates, which Bocanegra said is good for Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, the team’s other Designated Players. Martinez is out for the remainder of the season becuase of a knee injury.

“We are lacking a little bit of personality, a little bit of leadership,” Bocanegra said. “It’s something we need. We need someone to step up and help drive us forward.”

Moreno scored six goals and 13 assists in 106 matches with Lanus. He is stepping into a bit of a mess with Atlanta United, which has won one of its past 10 MLS games. It has scored only 12 goals in 12 games.

Moreno can play one of several positions, but Bocanegra said he sees him playing centrally in an attacking role. If Moreno plays centrally as a midfielder, that likely will mean that either Emerson Hyndman or Matheus Rossetto will lose his starting spot. It’s possible that Moreno could play as a second striker, underneath the top striker.

Bocanegra said that Moreno was signed before the next coach is hired because the team isn’t rolling over on this season. Atlanta United has 11 games remaining. The season will end in early November. Should Moreno be available to play in 17 days, the team will likely have six games remaining. The rest of the schedule is supposed to be released by the league Tuesday afternoon.

Atlanta United coming games

Wednesday vs Dallas, 7 p.m., Fox Sports South

Sunday at Chicago, 7:30 pm., Fox Sports Southeast

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