When Atlanta United's worst fears were confirmed in March, that Josef Martinez suffered a torn ACL in the club's season-opener against Nashville SC, technical director Carlos Bocanegra was adamant they wouldn't simply sign another forward for the sake of it.
They weren't going to panic, but rather be meticulous in adding to the roster. To round out the squad, so Adam Jahn wasn't the only natural center forward on the senior roster, they added 2019 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick JJ Williams.
"Really with Josef, we didn't want to force the situation and bring somebody in," Bocanegra told reporters on a video conference call Friday. "That's not changed. We're not going to force it, but if there is an opportunity to bring someone in and it makes sense, we will do that. It's not going to be getting a player just to get a player. Whoever we bring in is not Josef, that's kind of the main sentiment. We don't want to force it."
With the club gearing up for the MLS is Back Tournament, starting July 8, Atlanta haven't wavered from that stance.
"It doesn't look like we'll sign anyone from outside of the club before this Orlando tournament, but that doesn't mean we won't look to do something this summer when our transfer window opens," Bocanegra said.
Heading into group play – the Five Stripes are drawn into Group E with the New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati – Frank de Boer can call on either Jahn or Williams as natural No. 9s. Others have floated that either Ezequiel Barco or Pity Martinez could also play in a false-nine role.
Jahn started Atlanta's first game without Martinez against FC Cincinnati. Williams wasn't signed in time to be in that matchday squad, the final game before the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have confidence in all of our guys," Bocanegra said. "They've got to go earn it on the training field, then when they get that opportunity they have to prove it in a game."