MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

New Atlanta United signing Jurgen Damm: MLS "is on par with Liga MX"

Jurgen Damm with Mexico - Atlanta United

If the reaction to a few enjoyable and wholesome social media videos are anything to judge by, Atlanta United supporters and MLS neutrals are already fans of Jurgen Damm

Damm officially signed with Atlanta this week on a free transfer after his contract with Liga MX giants Tigres UANL expired. The deal represented great value for Atlanta, as Damm's time with Tigres didn't quite go as planned. In one of the deepest and most opulent attacks on this continent, it's not easy for an attacking player to win consistent minutes in that team.

The 27-year-old decided it was time for a fresh start. Around four or five months ago, Damm said, his agent let him know Atlanta were interested in facilitating that clean slate. He was interested immediately. 

“When he told me it was Atlanta, I said yes," Damm told reporters on a video conference call Friday. "I know the team very well. I saw them play against Club America. I know the city is very nice. The team, the stadium, the supporters, I know everything is very good. I’m very happy to join a big club like Atlanta, I think it’s one of the top clubs in MLS. It has a great roster, an important fanbase and great stadium."

Damm added there was interest in Liga MX for his signature, but didn't hesitate to leave the only country he's played in. A league source also added the Houston Dynamo did have "significant interest" in signing him, which is why they held his discovery rights, but ultimately decided against pursuing him after extensive scouting. 

“I think MLS is a very important league, I think it’s on par with Liga MX," Damm said. "You can see it in the players who have come here like (Rodolfo) Pizarro, (Alan) Pulido and Chicharito.”

Damm is one of the fastest soccer players in the world, but has received criticism for an inconsistent end product.

He moved to Tigres for a transfer fee reported to be almost $10 million in 2015, but didn't live up to that tag. He made 172 appearances for the club, adding 13 goals and 23 assists. Just 57 of his 107 league appearances were starts and he hadn't scored in Liga MX play since April 15, 2018. 

Unlocking a consistent end product will be vital for head coach Frank de Boer and his coaching staff. De Boer has largely favored a 3-4-2-1 formation during his time in charge of ATLUTD, where Damm could play underneath the striker or as a wingback, while also being fond of playing a 4-3-3, where Damm would play his familiar winger role. 

“Atlanta’s a team that likes to play a direct style," Damm said. "They use two wingers and I can play on either wing, so the style suits me. There’s a lot of talented players, I’ve watched a few games. I was talking with Frank, he told me we could play different formations. I can adapt to different formations, I can play right wing or left wing. I’m going to work very hard to be able to play regularly.”

For now, Damm will have to wait for the chance to play regularly. He is not eligible for the MLS is Back Tournament so he can't even train with his new team until their run in Orlando has finished, but he's working towards fitness and sharpness in the interim. 

Damm is also going to be the first Mexico international to play for Atlanta. Edgar Castillo is a former US international and is Mexican-American. 

“It makes me very happy to be the first Mexican player in Atlanta," Damm said. "I’m very grateful with Carlos [Bocanegra], Darren [Eales] and all the Atlanta staff. I want to do things very well to return them all the good things they’re giving to me. I hope to give the fans trophies and good performances.”