Hector Villalba - Atlanta United - July 22, 2016 (MEDIA)

Howdy folks! Welcome to this edition of the Upgrade, a new series tracking MLS players and developments in EA SPORTS FIFA 17. This week, we’re focusing on Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC, two expansion franchises set to take the field in just under a month. They’re not done building their rosters yet, but here’s a taste of what you can expect from them in FIFA! (And for last week's edition of the Upgrade, go here to read about how off-season roster moves stacked up in the game.)




Both Atlanta and Minnesota will take an MLS field for the first time in real life in just a few more weeks. In the meantime, my anticipation has finally gotten the best of me, so I spent last night dredging through the EA SPORTS FIFA 17 roster archives, doing my best to put together an outline of what each of these teams might look like in the game.


Here's what I came up with.


Atlanta United FC

<strong>NAME</strong>
<strong>POSITION</strong>
<strong>OVR/POT</strong>
Miguel Almiron
MF
78/83
Mikey Ambrose
LB/RB
61/68
Yamil Asad
MF
65/75
Mark Bloom
RB
65/65
Greg Garza
LB
69/73
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
CB
72/78
Harrison Heath
CM
57/67
Alec Kann
GK
64/68
Kevin Kratz
CM
67/67
Jeff Larentowicz
CDM.CB
68/68
Zach Lloyd
CB
68/69
Chris McCann
CM
70/70
Tyrone Mears
RB
69/69
Michael Parkhurst
CB
68/68
Jacob Peterson
FW
66/66
Hector Villalba
RM
74/80
Anton Walkes
CDM/CB
57/71
Josef Martinez
FW
71/77

Minnesota United FC

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<strong>NAME</strong>
<strong>POSITION</strong>
<strong>OVR/POT</strong>
Collen Warner
CM
66/67
Johan Venegas
MF
67/67
Jermaine Taylor
CB
69/69
Rasmus Schuller
CM
68/71
Mohammed Saeid
CM
66/68
Kevin Molino
MF/FW
73/74
Patric McLain
GK
58/61
Collin Martin
CAM
56/67
Miguel Ibarra
MF
67/68
Joseph Greenspan
CB
59/67
Vadim Demidov
CB
72/72
John Alvbage
GK
70/70

Raw Data


The first thing you’ll notice is that both of these rosters are incomplete. Sadly, not every player on these clubs’ in-real-life rosters exists (or has ever existed) in FIFA 17. So unfortunately, I won’t be able to do my part in building up the Andrew Carleton and Abu Danladi hype trains, unless EA  adds both clubs to the game like they did with New York City FC and Orlando City SC back in FIFA 15. Fingers crossed, folks.


The second thing you’ll notice is that, even with their incomplete squads (with Atlanta and Minnesota having 17 players and 12 players, respectively), each club has its share of talent present, both on paper and MLS-proven. This is important because, these being expansion teams, we’ll find out pretty quickly who’s up to the task in real life.

The Upgrade: How Atlanta, Minnesota will affect your MLS options in FIFA 17 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Collin%20Martin.jpg?null

Collin Martin, previously with D.C. United, could prove promising for Minnesota. Photo via USA Today Sports Images

The in-game upgrade potential for a lot of these players, especially the attack-minded young bucks like Atlanta's Yamil Asad and Minnesota's Collin Martin, as well as Carleton and Danladi (assuming they’re added to the game) is huge if they prove they can contribute. It’s sink or swim, and I’m optimistic the young guys have enough talent to adapt.


The Better Squad For Now?


Even though I’m feeling optimistic about both of these squads' potential in FIFA 17, Atlanta is definitely looking like the more fun team to play as, for the time being. They have a lot of attacking horsepower under the hood, and I want to take it for a spin pretty badly. An electric, skillful front three comprised of Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Hector Villalba is pretty darn stacked. With growth potentials of 83, 77, and 80 respectively, that is an absolute arsenal of talent at a FIFA enthusiast’s disposal.

The Upgrade: How Atlanta, Minnesota will affect your MLS options in FIFA 17 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Almiron-to-ATL.jpg?null

Miguel Almiron could prove pretty dangerous in FIFA. Photo via Atlanta United FC


Pair that with a probable back four comprised of Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, and Tyrone Mears, and you’ve got yourself quite a squad. In case you’re unaware, that back line boasts English Premier League experience, 35 USMNT caps, and an MLS Cup win, all told. Aldo, unlike expansion teams of the past, Atlanta has a lot of positional depth in key areas, meaning that one or two injuries won’t kill your hypothetical career mode.


As for Minnesota, well, uh, hang in there! As I said, these rosters are by no means complete, but for now, the only player on the Loons’ squad who has proven that he can be a game-changer on this level is Kevin Molino. Sure, Christian Ramirez could definitely carry his previous goal-scoring form for the team over to MLS. Miguel Ibarra could also prove he’s more than just pacey. But it’s all just speculation at this point.


Perhaps a player with a better chance of emerging as an X-factor early on for Minnesota is Johan Venegas. He never quite found his feet with Montreal, but he’s a proven Costa Rican international who I could see becoming a standout for Adrian Heath’s side very quickly. If that comes to pass, don’t be surprised if a handsome upgrade comes his way in FIFA.

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