While the MLS playoffs roll on, Atlanta United’s offseason is in full swing, and there are many questions to ask during the short down period. With rumors flying around and deadlines closer than you may think, this seems like a good time to ask/address any questions.
Will Atlanta United #SignAsad?
This one could go in a few directions. Asad came to Atlanta on loan and put together a sensational season which saw him grow in maturity and provide some absolutely standout performances.
Asad is still technically on loan from Velez Sarsfield in Argentina, but could be Atlanta’s for a price. The question becomes: Is Atlanta willing to pay the price? Popular thinking is that Atlanta would need to buy down one of their three designated players (Tito Villalba perhaps?) as Asad’s price tag is rather steep. Atlanta could do what I described above, they could also say no and let Asad return to Argentina.
This is where it gets interesting: Asad’s father (Argentine legend Omar Asad) has reportedly stated his son has offers from other MLS teams. Should Atlanta say no, one of their rivals could say yes. I’d like to think Atlanta keeps Asad around but MLS isn’t the financial wild west like European soccer and they’ll have to balance their books responsibly.
How Much of the Kids Will We See in 2018?
There are plenty of kids to ask about and we’ll narrow this down to the two closest to being ready. But expect to see the likes of Miles Robinson, Lagos Kunga, George Bello and Patrick Okonkwo try to make noise as well.
Those two closest would be the first homegrown signings, Chris Goslin and Andrew Carleton. Both shined and were essential at the United States U-17 World Cup run that ended last month and both probably would have seen time with United’s first team had the World Cup not gotten in the way.
Goslin is a midfielder who acted as the fulcrum to the U-17s during their dismantling of Paraguay, but missed the loss to England. He could slide in behind Carmona/Larentowicz on the depth chart and learn from the pair while coming on to spell either player during the season and possibly earning some starting time.
Carleton could grow into a playmaker in the middle of the field, but he’ll most likely make an instant impact on a crowded left wing or even the right wing where he’s been inverted before.
Will Miguel Almiron be in Atlanta in 2018?
Almiron has been linked to no fewer than three big European clubs. This comes after rumors that Arsenal had interest in him before he signed with Atlanta United. If I had my say we’d lock Almiron in Atlanta for years to come but that’s just not realistic, especially with the evolution of MLS into a league where young talent can grow before jumping across the Atlantic. Paraguay got bounced in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying on the last day so he’ll miss more international exposure. That said, Almiron should fetch a record-breaking fee when the time comes. The question is, when is that time?
How Much Do Larentowicz and Parkhurst Have Left?
Jeff Larentowicz and Michael Parkhurst are both on the other side of 30 and it’s probably safe to assume the team is looking down the road with these two. That’s not to say that they’ll be pushed out the door ASAP, but with players at their ages (33 and 34, respectively) the drop off is usually very sudden. I’d expect Goslin to stay under Larentowicz’s wing and Miles Robinson to stay under Parkhurst’s as both could be next in line for those spots whenever the time comes.
All of that said, both should be expected back as keys to a solid defense that allowed the fourth fewest goals in the league.
What is a Healthy Josef Martinez Ceiling?
Josef Martinez missed a solid chunk of the season and still challenged for the Golden Boot. It’s fair to wonder what he can do with a healthy season in a system he’s comfortable with. If all four main attacking pieces return and he stays healthy, you can be sure there will be talk about the MLS goals record (27) falling.