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Assessing the Atlanta United Roster for 2021

| March 31, 2021 11:01 am PDT

Following a dismal 2020 campaign for Atlanta United, it’s been an offseason of change in Georgia.

Gabriel Heinze is the new head coach, several big-name players have joined the club, and perhaps most notably, star striker Josef Martinez is nearing a return from the lengthy ACL injury that ruled him out of last season.

So, can the 2021 Atlanta United roster bring the good times back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium?

In this post, I look at the Five Stripes’ offseason transfers, detail Atlanta’s roster for the 2021 MLS season, and analyze ATL UTDs Designated Players.

Atlanta United’s Offseason Transfers

Let’s kick things off by looking at Atlanta United’s transfers in 2021.

ATLANTA UNITED’S OFFSEASON TRANSFERS
In Out
Alex DeJohn Andrew Gutman
Andrew Gutman Fernando Meza
Franco Ibarra Eric Remedi
Ronald Hernandez Franco Escobar
Darwin Matheus
Santiago Saso
Lisandro Lopez
Machop Chol

Santiago Sosa headlines the Five Stripes’ list of incoming players this year. The 21-year-old was acquired from Argentine giant Boca Juniors for over $5 million and will add dynamism to the team’s midfield.

Fellow Argentine Franco Ibarra cost Atlanta around $3 million, while Alex DeJohn, Ronald Hernandez, Lisandro Lopez, and Machop Chol arrived on free transfers.

As you can see, Andrew Gutman features in both columns here. The defender was signed from Scottish club Celtic but will spend the 2021 MLS season on loan with the Red Bulls.

Fernando Meza and Franco Escobar have also signed loan deals elsewhere, while Eric Remedi has joined San Jose following three years in Georgia.

To learn more about Atlanta’s biggest offseason acquisition, you can check out our blog below.

Ten New MLS Signings to Watch in 2021

Major League Soccer clubs have been busy adding players to their rosters over the past few months, with the start of the new MLS now less than a month away. Unfortunately, the effects of the pandemic have somewhat limited the kind of spending that we’ve...

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Atlanta United Roster in 2021

Here is Atlanta’s 2021 roster in full.

Goalkeepers

  • Alec Kann
  • Brad Guzan (C)
  • Ben Lundgaard

36-year-old Brad Guzan is likely to be Gabriel Heinze’s first-choice goalkeeper this year, although Alec Kann could soon stake a claim for Atlanta’s number-one jersey.

The aging Guzan endured a testing season between the sticks in 2020. Kann has been waiting patiently in the wings for a while now, so we could see the understudy become the main man in 2021.

BRAD GUZAN’S CAREER BY THE NUMBERS
League Games Goals Conceded Shoutouts
Major League Soccer 181 231 62
English Premier League 154 258 30
English Championship 16 14 5

Defenders

  • Miles Robinson
  • Alex DeJohn
  • George Campbell
  • Josh Bauer
  • Efrain Morales
  • George Bello
  • Mikey Ambrose
  • Brooks Lennon
  • Anton Walkes
  • Ronald Hernandez

In Miles Robinson, Atlanta possesses one of the top homegrown center-backs in Major League Soccer. Former USL Championship pair Alex DeJohn and Josh Bauer will provide competition for places in central defense, having recently joined the club.

At left-back, George Bello will aim to build on last year’s breakout campaign. And on the other side of the backline, new arrival Ronald Hernandez could challenge Brooks Lennon for the right-back spot.

Midfielders

  • Santiago Sosa
  • Franco Ibarra
  • Marcelino Moreno (DP)
  • Emerson Hyndman
  • Matheus Rossetto
  • Mo Adams
  • Jake Mulraney
  • Ezequiel Barco (DP)

Sosa joins a strong Argentine contingent in Atlanta’s midfield, alongside compatriots such as Franco Ibarra, Marcelino Moreno, and Ezequiel Barco. In fact, Atlanta United’s 2021 roster is packed with exciting midfield options.

Following a quiet 2020 campaign, Barco is one of the designated players who need to step up in 2021.

Emerson Hyndman, Matheus Rossetto, and Jake Mulraney established themselves as important players for the Five Stripes last season, meaning Heinze is spoiled for choice in this department.

Forwards

  • Jurgen Damm
  • Darwin Matheus
  • Tyler Wolff
  • Machop Chol
  • Josef Martinez (DP)
  • Erik Lopez
  • Lisandro Lopez
  • Erick Torres
  • Jackson Conway

I could argue that Atlanta’s depth at right-wing is now among the best in MLS. Jurgen Damm and Tyler Wolff both arrived last year, while new signings like Darwin Matheus and Machop Chol offer even more options in that area.

Ex-Porto and Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez add heaps of experience to Atlanta’s squad for 2021, but all the focus will be on returning DP Josef Martinez this year.

Atlanta United’s Designated Players for 2021

Can the Five Stripes’ DPs get back to their best this year? Let’s take a closer look at Atlanta’s Designated Players in 2021.

Marcelino Moreno

Atlanta spent somewhere in the region of $7.5 million to bring Moreno to Major League Soccer back in September 2020. But at that point, the Georgia outfit’s campaign was already beyond saving.

The central midfielder showed everyone glimpses of what he is capable of towards the end of the previous season, chipping in with two goals and one assist in six MLS appearances. Still, as one of Atlanta United’s DPs, Moreno will be expected to up his game in 2021.

You can check out how Moreno opened his ATL UTD account in the video below.

Ezequiel Barco

By his own high standards, Barco was nowhere near good enough in 2020. We had gotten used to the Atlanta DP dominating defenses, yet just like his team, Barco endured a season to forget last year.

Of course, it is important to remember that the former Independiente youngster is still only 22. But having joined Atlanta for a whopping $15 million in 2018, there is a sense that Barco is yet to live up to his price tag.

Josef Martinez

It is no exaggeration to say that Martinez will feel like a brand-new signing for the Five Stripes this year. The Venezuelan striker spent the entirety of the 2020 campaign sidelined through injury – and his team sorely missed him.

Not only is Martinez Atlanta’s best Designated Player, but he is arguably one of the greatest DPs in MLS history. You only have to look at his outrageous scoring record to see exactly how much he means to the club. I mean, he pretty much averages a goal involvement per game for ATL UTD.

JOSEF MARTINEZ’S RECORD FOR ATLANTA UNITED
Games Goals Assists
103 90 12

Final Assessment of the 2021 Atlanta United Roster

As this post details, a lot has changed at Atlanta United since the end of the previous campaign.

On paper, Atlanta’s roster for 2021 is one of the strongest in Major League Soccer. But we all know what happened last season, right?

A lot will depend on how Heinze settles into his new role. The 42-year-old is one of several new MLS head coaches in 2021, but it will naturally take him time to adapt to the league and get to grips with the Five Stripes’ squad.

In my eyes, Sosa is an excellent acquisition. Not only is he a gifted player, but he has also added to the club’s Argentine contingent – and that is likely to help Heinze.

Above all, the return of Martinez is massive. If the prolific striker can stay fit this year, Atlanta United’s 2021 roster could return to the glory days.

If you are enjoying betting on MLS, check out our Major League Soccer betting guide.

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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