What does Atlanta United need now?

Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Clint Dempsey (2) and Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom (28) jump for a header during the first half at CenturyLink Field in 2014. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

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Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Clint Dempsey (2) and Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom (28) jump for a header during the first half at CenturyLink Field in 2014. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

At the most pessimistic, Atlanta United at least added depth with four trades completed Sunday, the four players it added in Tuesday’s expansion draft and a free agent signed Wednesday.

At the most optimistic, the club added eight starters for its 2017 inaugural MLS season.

Those in charge of finding and signing those players are open to anything ahead of January’s training camp, when the battles will begin.

“We don’t have starters on the field,” club technical director Carlos Bocanegra said Monday. “All 11 spots are open for competition.”

On Wednesday, Atlanta United agreed to terms with free agent Jeff Larentowicz.

The 33-year-old midfielder has 324 regular-season appearances in MLS, including 23 last season with Los Angeles. He has scored 38 goals with 19 assists in a career that includes stops at New England (2005-09), where he appeared in three consecutive MLS Cup finals, Colorado (2010-12), where the won the MLS Cup in 2010, Chicago (2013-15) and the Galaxy.

After that signing, Atlanta United has 18 players on its roster: two goalkeepers (Alex Tambakis and Alex Kann), four defenders (Michael Parkhurst, Zach Loyd, Mark Bloom and Mikey Ambrose), eight midfielders (Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Chris McCann, Kevin Kratz, Harrison Heath and Larentowicz), and four forwards (Kenwyne Jones, Brandon Vazquez, Romario Williams and Jeffrey Otoo).

The team released midfielder Junior Burgos on Wednesday.

Atlanta United reportedly is trying to sign U.S. men's national-team goalkeeper Brad Guzan and also reportedly is on the verge of adding midfielder Oscar Romero as its third designated player. Neither Eales nor Bocanegra would discuss Guzan on Monday. An Atlanta United spokesman declined to comment on Romero.

The free-agency window opened in MLS on Tuesday afternoon. Atlanta United could sign another player to add league experience and leadership to a squad that features 10 players 25 years old or younger.

MLS will hold its waiver draft Thursday. That draft is for less-experienced players who don’t meet the criteria for free agency, or the re-entry draft, which starts Friday. The SuperDraft, for college players, will be held Jan. 13 in Los Angeles. Atlanta United has the Nos. 2 and 8 picks in the first round of a four-round draft.

Based upon experience and results as professionals, without trying to predict who the team may yet sign, the starting lineup for the first game in March likely would include Kann in goal, Parkhurst, Loyd and Bloom in defense, Villalba, Almiron, McCann and Kratz in midfield, and Jones at forward. That leaves at least two starting jobs that need more competition. The wild cards are Ambrose and Heath, as well as the reported but not yet confirmed signings of Guzan and Romero. Both likely would start.

Because the team features several players who are younger than 20 (Carleton, Goslin, Otoo and Vazquez) and who seem likely to be loaned to a USL club to gain experience as pros, Atlanta United likely will use free agency to add a spot starter and the waiver, re-entry and SuperDraft to add depth at all positions for the short-, medium- and long-terms, a phrase and philosophy that club president Darren Eales ardently believes in.

“We will look at every mechanism to put a roster together,” Eales said Tuesday.

Atlanta United’s new players

Atlanta United added eight players since Sunday:

Mikey Ambrose

Position: Defender

Height: 5-9

Age: 23

From: El Paso, Texas

How acquired: Selected in expansion draft.

Made five appearances for Orlando last season. … Began his career with Austin in USL. … Played in college for Maryland. … Has played for U.S. youth national teams at Under-17, U18 and U20 levels.


Mark Bloom

Position: Defender

Height: 5-11

Age: 29

From: Marietta

How acquired: In trade with Toronto for goalkeeper Clint Irwin following expansion draft.

Twitter: @markbloom21

Has 39 appearances in MLS, all with Toronto. … Played at Lassiter High. … Played at Berry College. … Typically used as a right back. … Played for the Silverbacks.


Harrison Heath

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5-11

Age: 20

From: England, though he counts as a domestic player.

How acquired: In exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2019 draft.

Twitter: @harrisonheathy1

Has played in six games, including five starts, with Orlando the previous two seasons. … Appeared in 13 games with Orlando City B in the USL last season, scoring one goal. … Son of former Orlando coach Adrian Heath, now the coach of Minnesota United. … Seems like more of a role player for Atlanta United while he continues to develop.


Alec Kann

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 6-4

Age: 26

From: Decatur, Ga.

How acquired: Selected in expansion draft.

Twitter: @akann90

Kann made seven starts for Sporting KC in 2016. … Played at Lakeside High School. … Originally signed with Chicago in 2013. … Played in college at Furman.


Kevin Kratz

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5-8

Age: 29

From: Germany.

How acquired: In exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2020 draft.

Made 122 appearances in the Bundesliga, including 89 with 12 goals for Bayer Leverkusen’s B team. … Didn’t make an appearance for Philadelphia after arriving on loan earlier this year. … Though some are slotting him into Atlanta United’s seems that it’s too early to tell how he will fit into Gerardo Martino’s team and the league.


Zach Loyd

Position: Defender

Height: 5-10

Age: 29

From: Tulsa

How acquired: In expansion draft.

Twitter: @zachloyd

Made 180 appearances for Dallas. … Can play multiple positions in defense. … Has made three appearances for U.S. men’s national team. … After sustaining a concussion last season, he has been cleared to play. … Good with his feet, which is important in manager Gerardo Martino’s system.


Michael Parkhurst

Position: Defender

Height: 5-11

Age: 32

From: Providence, R.I.

How acquired: Undisclosed amount of General Allocation Money in trade with Columbus.

Twitter: @mfparkhurst

Has made 215 appearances, including 214 starts, in seven seasons in MLS with New England and then Columbus. … Also played in Denmark and Germany. … Has made 24 appearances in the U.S. men’s national team, including the 2007 and ’13 Gold Cups. … Seems to certainly be a starter in the back line for Atlanta United. … A four-time MLS all-star.

“Michael is a fantastic addition for us, give his veteran leadership and MLS experience. He’s proven to be an effective captain and is an ideal role model for some of the younger players on our club,” Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said in statement provided by the team. “Also, he’s a very intelligent defender and good on the ball, which fits in nicely with our style of play.”


Romario Williams

Position: Forward

Height: 5-11

Age: 22

From: Jamaica

How acquired: In exchange for a third-round pick in 2018 draft. If he plays in 2017, the pick instead becomes a second-round selection.

Twitter: @williams_romy17

Picked third in 2015 SuperDraft after scoring 18 goals at UCF. … Has started just two games in two seasons with the Impact. … Was loaned to Charleston in the USL this season, where he played with Atlanta United players Alex Tambakis, Andrew Carleton and Jeffrey Otoo. … Played in 27 games for the Battery with 10 goals and an assist. … Has potential to become a starter for Atlanta United, but perhaps not in the 2017 season.

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