(Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire)
The 2023 Atlanta United offseason has felt very quiet without any Darren Eales cryptic tweets popping up on my notifications. Usually we see signings being advertised for weeks ahead of them being announced (Thiago Almada 2022, Alan Franco/Franco Ibarra/Santiago Sosa/Ronald Hernandez 2021, Matheus Rossetto/Jake Mulraney/Fernando Meza/Manuel Castro 2020), but this year has been rather quiet on the receiving end. Garth seems to be clearing out a lot of money from this roster while he implements his analytical setup into the club. Today was a big day of that, and we will go into it all below.
Addition: Derrick Etienne Jr.
As talked about in my previous blog, Atlanta signed one of the league's highly-touted free agents in Derrick Etienne. Etienne had a career year in Columbus last season with 9 goals and 6 assists. Atlanta was forcing Marcelino Moreno out of position or relying on heavy minutes from youngsters Caleb Wiley and Edwin Mosquera at the left wing spot last season. This move shores up someone versatile and experienced to go into this next season with.
Subtraction: Marcelino Moreno
Speaking of Marcelino Moreno, Brazilian club Coritiba has announced today that they acquired Moreno from Atlanta on a one-year loan. With the acquisition of Almada last offseason, Moreno and him both were hard to connect together on the field. Moreno was found to be a sub for much of the back end of 2022 as he did look not to be in the plans of Pineda. In his two and a half seasons at the club, Moreno had 13 goals and 14 assists in 68 league appearances. Moreno's contract expires at the end of the 2024 season. Best of luck to him and hope he finds success for a team in need of his strengths.
Addition: Quentin Westberg
Due to Brad Guzan's season-ending injury and Bobby Shuttleworth's retirement, the club was left at a scramble to sign both Rocco Rios Novo and Raul Gudino mid-season. Guzan is expected to return fully healthy heading into 2023, but the team ensures they have two people capable to start as they sign veteran Quentin Westberg to a one-year deal. Westberg, 36, has started 68 matches in four years at Toronto FC. Not the player he was when he joined the league in 2019, he can still be a reliable piece if Guzan misses time or significantly regresses. A short term stop gap before the team eyes their long term goalie situation.
Subtraction: Alan Franco
A requested signing from Gabriel Heinze after Lautaro Gianneti's failed physical, Alan Franco has been a good but not great center back for Atlanta United after two seasons. Once Miles Robinson was injured, the team really needed him to step up and be one of the league's best. Sao Paulo has publicly been after him every winter since signed in 2021, and now they finally get their guy on a 3-year contract. Awaiting the transfer fee, Franco is another player that just didn't meet his expectations from the signings in Atlanta United 2.0.
Addition: Noah Cobb
Carlos Bocanegra quoted "For me, (Noah Cobb) has future national team written all over him." While that's a lot to ask of from a 17 year old academy product, the moves above and below just show how much trust they have in his early progress with the first team. Cobb has received youth USMNT call ups, most recently for the U19 camp in April. As of now, Cobb is the CB3 on the roster. Look out for a veteran signing soon and for Cobb to slowly work his way onto the field in 2023. A lot to be excited about here.
Subtraction: George Campbell
When this news dropped, I didn't expect Alan Franco to be on the transfer block. Maybe this shows how much they believe in Cobb's future. George was projected to take leaps in 2022, but the opportunities weren't present for him to. He didn't seem ready for it here and with Miles returning, the trade with CF Montreal for up to $900k GAM seems mutually beneficial for all three parties. Campbell already has received a contract extension through 2025 with Montreal. Best of luck to George and I hope he hits his full potential!
Addition: Ajani Fortune
Ajani Fortune, the 2s captain, signed a deal in the summer that began this calendar year to join the club as its next Homegrown player. Fortune is a 20 year old center midfielder who has received senior national team call ups for Trinidad and Tobago. We'll see if he can continue the recent success from our academy program.
Subtraction: Emerson Hyndman
After an injury-riddled career in Atlanta, both the club and Emerson Hyndman have agreed to mutually terminate his contract. A surprising move for the player side, Hyndman made $657,143 last season. Emerson scored 4 goals and 6 assists in 51 league appearances. Hyndman may have seen this as an opportunity to find a better situation for himself as the team moves into a new direction.
The last time this team cleaned house was when they were a powerhouse in the league. Now, this turnover feels like a breath of fresh air for the future of the Five Stripes. Expect some more news to hover these next couple weeks. It's now Atlanta United 3.0.