Charlotte selects Atlanta United’s Walkes in expansion draft

Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes #4 defends during the match against Cincinnati FC at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday November 7, 2021. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
caption arrowCaption
Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes #4 defends during the match against Cincinnati FC at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday November 7, 2021. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

Atlanta United centerback Anton Walkes was selected by Charlotte in Tuesday night’s MLS expansion draft.

Walkes, 24, made 33 appearances, including 32 starts, for Atlanta United during the recently completed season. He scored two goals with two assists. He formed a good partnership with Miles Robinson when the team played with just two centerbacks, and then with Robinson and Alan Franco when the team switched to three centerbacks. He made 17 appearances, with 15 starts, in 2020.

It was his second stint with Atlanta United after spending the 2017 season with the Five Stripes while on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. He made 20 appearances, including 17 starts, then.

Walkes totaled four goals and three assists in 70 appearances in regular-season games.

Walkes is the second Atlanta United player selected in an expansion draft. Striker Brandon Vazquez, selected by Nashville in 2019 before being traded to Cincinnati, was the first in 2019.

Atlanta United will received $50,000 in General Allocation Money in exchange for Walkes.

Walkes will be remembered as one of the team’s leaders in 2021. If a player was needed, particularly after a tough loss, Walkes would frequently step up for interviews.

He was made available during the expansion draft because teams could only protect 12 players from a 30-man roster. Other reasons may include that Vice President Carlos Bocanegra and manager Gonzalo Pineda have hinted at a possible formation shift, which may eliminate one of the three centerbacks. The team also has Homegrown signings George Campbell, Bryce Washington and Efrain Morales, in the pipeline.

Other players left unprotected were: midfielder Mo Adams, fullback Mikey Ambrose, centerback Joshua Bauer, winger Jurgen Damm, centerback Alex De John, fullback Ronald Hernandez (who is on loan from Aberdeen), midfielder Emerson Hyndman, goalkeeper Alec Kann, striker Erik Lopez, goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard, winger Jake Mulraney, midfielder Amar Sejdic and striker Erick Torres.

The maximum 12 players the team protected were winger Luiz Araujo, midfielder Ezequiel Barco, Franco, fullback Andrew Gutman (who is on loan to the Red Bulls), goalkeeper Brad Guzan, midfielder Franco Ibarra, fullback Brooks Lennon, striker Josef Martinez, midfielder Marcelino Moreno, Robinson, midfielder Matheus Rossetto and midfielder Santiago Sosa.

Protected because they are Homegrowns were fullback George Bello, Campbell, winger Machop Chol, striker Jackson Conway, Morales, centerback Bryce Washington and midfielder Tyler Wolff.

Charlotte also selected Austin forward McKinze Gaines, D.C. United defender Joseph Mora, LAFC defender Tristan Blackmon and NYCFC’s Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Roster building will continue for all of the MLS clubs on Wednesday with the opening of free agency and end-of-year waivers.