During this unprecedented break from the Major League Soccer season amid the coronavirus pandemic, many around the league are trying to find ways to pass the time, whether it’s more quality time at home with loved ones or learning a new language.
That’s not a problem for the Atlanta United scouting department, which has doubled down on some longterm projects and started to turn over new stones in the search of potential signings.
“There are so many games that have been played, there so many leagues out there to be watched and players we can dive into even further and do our due diligence,” Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a conference call with reporters. “That is one department for us that is actually full go.”
Bocanegra said they usually target about 20 leagues, but are starting to dive into 10 additional leagues and are doing detailed analysis on some 30,000 players.
“There doesn’t need to be games going on right now because there’s plenty of games that have taken place,” he said. “We have plenty of targets from different leagues we’re exploring, combining our data, our analysis, our video.”
While it will take players some time to regain sharpness when the league gets to all clear to resume, Bocanegra said his team’s scouting department should be ahead of the curve for the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window, whether that's in the summer, as usual, or beyond.
“It’s a chance for them to kind of catch up and start to get ahead and really gives us a chance to do more due diligence on our targets that were this summer or, I don’t know if it's still going to be this summer, or back end of the year when the next transfer window is,” he said.
Another “silver lining” of the stoppage for Bocanegra has been the fitness of injured players. He said everyone, with the exception of Josef Martinez of course, is either fully fit or will be by the time play resumes.
Bocanegra said the timing of Martinez’s ACL surgery was another positive, although, like club president Darren Eales on Monday, wasn’t ready to give a timeline for the talisman’s return.
“We were very fortunately actually to get Josef’s surgery in before everything was kind of shut down for the elective surgeries,” Bocanegra said.