By Jarrett Smith

This feels like a good time to step away from the hot stove for a moment as there is almost certainly nothing developing as far as big signings go.

Nope. Nothing at all. Silent as a church mouse. Why do you ask?

Already assuming that you’ve got Twitter open to some obscure account from Argentina, let us take a step back and look at a signing that has actually been confirmed: Mitch Hildebrandt.

Atlanta has had a very adventurous existence when it comes to keepers. The first ever signing was Alex Tambakis, they grabbed local product Sean Johnson then turned around and sold him hours later. Finally, they leaned on another local product in Alec Kann while waiting for Brad Guzan to finish his year at Middlesbrough. Of course, the climax of Atlanta’s adventure between the sticks has to be when they were down to their fourth ‘keeper (the aforementioned Alex Tambakis) after Guzan was on international duty, Kann was hurt and that day’s starter Kyle Reynish had been sent off. Perhaps 2018 will be less adventurous.

So far this offseason we’ve seen Atlanta not renew Tambakis’ deal and let Reynish walk. That left an opening for someone to either battle Kann for back-up duties and/or fill out the USL roster. Atlanta took steps to solve this problem late last week by signing Hildebrandt from FC Cincinnati.

If you paid attention to the U.S. Open Cup last year – and even if you didn’t his efforts were on Sportscenter – you saw a Hildebrandt play the hero more than once as the USL club made a dream run into the USOC finals where it fell short.

Hildebrandt became a folk hero for people around the country paying attention to the tournament and while he shined in the spotlight, his star rising has been coming for a while. Hildebrandt was named USL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016 and the thing about folk heroes is that they gain their status through moments of greatness.

As far as his contributions to Atlanta, Hildebrandt will surely battle it out with Alec Kann for the second keeper on the roster and one of the two will be most likely spending time in Gwinnett with the yet-to-be-named USL club. This, of course, assumes that LAFC doesn’t grab one of them in the expansion draft and make no mistake, both Hildebrandt and Kann will be unprotected next week.

No matter how it shakes out in the expansion draft or even the battle for back-up next season, Atlanta went out and grabbed a highly rated goalkeeper in his prime who can either provide depth for the first team or a solid calming presence for what will surely be a young back line in Gwinnett.

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