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Armchair Analyst's Breakdown

  • Strength: They have the most expensive roster in the league and a coach who seems determined to be pragmatic about how to use it. Historically speaking, that’s a good combo.
  • Weakness: No truly elite chance creator, which puts a ton of pressure on young Thiago Almada. We’ve seen that go bad in Atlanta before.

Key Departures

  • Ezequiel Barco: What to make of the Ezequiel Barco era in Atlanta? It’s a tough one. He didn’t quite live up to the $15 million price tag and grandiose expectations when arriving at 18 years old as one of South America’s most promising players, but he was part of the 2018 MLS Cup-winning team (though started no playoff games) and was more of a focal point of the US Open Cup and Campeones Cup victories in 2019. He’s on loan at River Plate after 17 goals and 17 assists in 81 MLS appearances (64 starts).
  • George Bello: George Bello seemed destined for a move abroad, as the homegrown signing has long been on European radars, before he signed his first professional contract thanks to performances with US youth national teams. Now a full senior international and professional with more than 50 starts in all competitions under his belt, Bello heads to Arminia Bielefeld in the German Bundesliga. Atlanta lined up a natural replacement in Andrew Gutman.
  • Anton Walkes: Selected in the Expansion Draft by Charlotte FC, Anton Walkes was a casualty to ATL only being able to protect 12 players. Walkes was particularly well-suited to when manager Gonzalo Pineda (or previous coaches) opted for three at the back, but can play (and often has played) as a right back or center back in a back four. He made 32 starts for Atlanta last year, a difficult impact to replace.

Key Acquisitions

  • Thiago Almada: A new league record transfer? Welcome, Thiago Almada. Atlanta acquired him from Velez Sarsfield for $16 million, the third time they’ve set a new record for the most expensive transfer (Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez previously). Will the 20-year-old be more Miguel Almiron or Barco? We shall see. He had 24 goals and 11 assists in 100 appearances with Velez and is a regular with Argentine youth national teams, including at the Olympics last year with Barco.
  • Ozzie Alonso: Pineda brought in veteran defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso, his former teammate in Seattle. Alonso may be 36 years old now, but last year he was still a big positive for Minnesota United in 1500 minutes and started their playoff game. That’s no coincidence. He’ll help shape the culture in a good way as well.
  • Andrew Gutman: After spending 2021 on loan at the New York Red Bulls, following a season-and-a-half on loan with FC Cincinnati, Gutman finally has a permanent home. Gutman should be the starting left back with George Bello transferred and highly-rated Caleb Wiley just 17 years old. Gutman was among the league’s better left backs with RBNY last year and should fit seamlessly in ATL.
  • Full roster

Projected Starting XI

Atlanta United - projected XI 2022

Predictions

  • Charles Boehm: 7th in East
  • Tom Bogert: 2nd in East
  • Matt Doyle: 3rd in East
  • David Gass: 4th in East
  • Sam Jones: 4th in East
  • Joe Lowery: 5th in East
  • Greg Seltzer: 2nd in East
  • Andrew Wiebe: 4th in East