Atlanta United trades Franco Escobar to LAFC

092320 Atlanta: Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar (from left) takes it away from FC Dallas forward Franco Jara in front of the goal with goalkeeper Brad Guzan looking on during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
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092320 Atlanta: Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar (from left) takes it away from FC Dallas forward Franco Jara in front of the goal with goalkeeper Brad Guzan looking on during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta United traded defender Franco Escobar to LAFC on Sunday in exchange for $250,000 in General Allocation Money for the 2022 MLS season, with the possibility of another $350,000 in future revenue, plus a percentage of any future transfer fee should LAFC sell the defender to a team outside the league.

Escobar, 26, spent the last season on loan with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. The MLS half-day trade window opened Sunday. Teams can resume trading after Tuesday’s expansion draft.

Escobar joined Atlanta United before the 2018 season after being procured from Newell’s for less than $600,000. He made 63 appearances in regular season games and eight in the playoffs for the Five Stripes.

He scored five goals, including three in the playoffs, with six assists. He started and helped the club win the MLS Cup in 2018, scoring the second goal in the 2-0 win, and Campeones Cup and came on as a late sub in the U.S. Open Cup in 2019.

Escobar was versatile, playing as a centerback, right wingback or fullback for managers Gerardo Martino, Frank de Boer and Stephen Glass. Escobar also had trouble controlling his energy, which was frequently directed at referees. He received 26 yellow cards and one red card. Because of suspensions and injuries, he never appeared in more than 25 games in a season.

Trading Escobar on Sunday means the club will not have to protect him with one of its 12 available slots in the expansion draft. It may also be considered a good piece of business because had they not protected Escobar, and Charlotte selected him, Atlanta United would have received just $50,000 in General Allocation Money.

The trade also frees a spot on Atlanta United’s senior roster. Escobar didn’t occupy an International slot. He had a guaranteed salary of $450,000 last season, according to the MLSPA salary guide. With the trade, Atlanta United has 27 players on a 30-man roster.

Additionally, the club is looking to loan Erik Lopez, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Lopez, 20, made 18 appearances with one goal scored. Lopez was acquired by the club from Olimpia in his native Paraguay.

Brought in to play striker in 2020, he was moved to the wing by previous manager Gabriel Heinze for the 2021 season. The move was partially because the team signed Lisandro Lopez to backup Josef Martinez. Lopez ended up leaving the club after a few weeks following the death of his father in Argentina. Still, Heinze kept Lopez as a winger.

If Atlanta United loans Lopez to a club outside MLS, the move will open one of its Under-22 Initiative roster slots, as well as an International slot and Senior slot.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m.

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m.