Atlanta United completes fifth MLS draft

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

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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

Atlanta United added some General Allocation Money, a surprising centerback and a midfielder Thursday as it completed its fifth MLS draft.

Atlanta United started by trading its first-round pick, the fifth overall, and the 32nd pick to D.C. United for the 31st pick and $125,000 in General Allocation Money.

With the 31st pick, the team selected Josh Bauer of New Hampshire. Bauer, who is 6-foot-2, was thought to be a top-10 pick after making 60 appearances in college with 10 goals. He also made three appearances for Birmingham in USL play last season. Bauer was named the America East Conference Defender of the Year in 2018 and ’19.

Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said the team had Bauer in for workouts two years ago in what is a common practice for teams to work out underclassmen. Bocanegra described Bauer as an intelligent, hard-working defender.

Bocanegra said draft days are sometimes strange when he was asked why he thought Bauer dropped out of the first round. He theorized Bauer must not have fit into other team’s needs.

“None of that matters now, and I’m so grateful to be selected by them,” Bauer said. “I can’t wait to get started with the program, amazing fan base, amazing staff and look forward to competing for a championship with them as soon as possible.”

Bauer said that scouting reports calling him an already finished product gives him more motivation to improve. He said he believes that he can play the passing style that is presumed to be coming from new manager Gabriel Heinze.

Atlanta United’s centerback pool includes Miles Robinson, Fernando Meza, Anton Walkes, Franco Escobar, George Campbell and Efrain Morales.

The team completed the draft by selecting Notre Dame attacking midfielder Aiden McFadden. He appeared in 49 matches for the Fighting Irish from 2017-19, scoring six goals and adding six assists. McFadden grew up in West Chester, Pa. He is the second player from Notre Dame drafted by Atlanta United, joining Jon Gallagher, who was selected in 2018.

“One of the things I like out of the Notre Dame players, which you saw in Jon Gallagher, is their hard work, fitness levels, and they are smart kids,” Bocanegra said.

Bocanegra said McFadden can play anywhere across the front three. It seems likely that McFadden will play for Atlanta United 2.

McFadden described being drafted as completing a dream. He has eligibility remaining and hasn’t signed with an agent. Unlike Bauer, McFadden hadn’t previously worked out for Atlanta United. He is close to graduating with a degree in business analytics.

“I know Atlanta is relatively new but already a storied program,” he said. “Been fun watching them and watching them win.”

Atlanta United wasn’t the only soccer entity in the city making moves. Georgia State’s Aris Briggs became the third player in school history to be selected in the draft. He was taken by Real Salt Lake in the third round. He finished ninth in school history with 27 goals scored in three seasons.

Briggs joins Michael Nwiloh, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft by Chivas USA, and Aaron Jones, who was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft by Philadelphia.