(Atlanta United Website)
Welcome to the eighth Season Preview of the 2023 MLS season! We are continuing this journey with my club, Atlanta United. This has been such an emotional offseason for us. The loss of the best player in franchise history, the club is attempting to rewrite its story moving forward. For those of you who are new to MLS Now's work, thanks for reading today and check out all of what our podcast and blog site has to offer. Let's get into it below.
Record: 10-10-14 (40 points/11th in East)
Team Leader Goals: Josef Martinez 9, Ronald Cisneros 7, Thiago Almada/Juan Purata 6
Team Leader Assists: Thiago Almada 12, Marcelino Moreno 8, Brooks Lennon 7
Manager: Gonzalo Pineda (3rd season)
Additions: *CF Giorgos Giakoumakis ($4.3 million transfer from Celtic/28 years old), LW Derrick Etienne Jr. (free from Columbus Crew/26 years old), CB Luis Abram ($330k transfer from Granada CF/26 years old), GK Quentin Westberg (free from Toronto FC/36 years old), GK Clement Diop (free from New England Revolution/29 years old), RW Tyler Wolff (loan returnee from SK Beveren/19 years old)
Subtractions: CF Josef Martinez (free to Inter Miami CF/29 years old), CAM Marcelino Moreno (loan to Coritiba FC/27 years old), CB Alan Franco ($2.50M to Sao Paulo/26 years old), CB George Campbell ($600k GAM to CF Montreal/21 years old), CM Emerson Hyndman (free agent/26 years old), LW Edwin Mosquera (loan to Defensa y Justicia/21 years old), CF Dom Dwyer (free agent/32 years old), CF Ronald Cisneros (end of loan to Chivas/25 years old), CB Alex DeJohn (free agent/31 years old), GK Raul Gudino (free agent/26 years old), LB Mikey Ambrose (free agent/29 years old)
Designated Players: CAM Thiago Almada, RW Luiz Araujo, *CF Giorgos Giakoumakis
*not official but close, using reported numbers
Projected Starting XI
This looks a lot different than usual... doesn't it? In my preferred starting XI posted, there are three new signings apart of the group. The first being former Celtic striker and Greek international Giorgos Giakoumakis (don't be mad at me putting #7 that's what he most recently wore), who has led both the Eredivisie and Scottish Premiership in goals the past two seasons. Giakoumakis is a poacher and his strengths are what Atlanta wants at the center forward spot, Lennon and Gutman cross A LOT and hopefully he can be the guy on the other end of these balls that we've been looking for. A player of his caliber is in his prime and I think we got him rather cheap for his past production. The next is winger Derrick Etienne Jr. Talked about in my previous post and the Atlanta podcast, he was a great signing and was obviously a priority for the team. He's the guy on the left flank and Atlanta will hope he can do even better than his career 2022 season. The last guy is someone who I always had my eyes on: Luis Abram. I follow Velez Sarsfield often for obvious reasons: Yamil Asad coming from them on loan in 2017, Gabriel Heinze joining us from them in 2021 and almost bringing Lautaro Giannetti with him, and Thiago Almada arriving to us from them last season. Abram left Velez for La Liga side Granada on a free in 2021. Abram never was found in favor here and he went to Cruz Azul on loan last season. Granada now is in Spain's second division and a promotion doesn't look guaranteed, allowing Atlanta to get Abram for basically free just to remove his contract off the books. Abram will slot next to Robinson in a 4 back and can be the left center back in a 3 back with Miles and Purata.
There are three other names on this list that aren't additions to the payroll, but additions to the roster as they're near full recoveries from season-ending injuries: Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, and Osvaldo Alonso. Robinson is on the last year of his deal and will be hungry to earn the most he can (and possibly head to Europe). If healthy, he's a top two center back in the league. Alonso will rotate with Matteus Rossetto, Franco Ibarra, and Amar Sejdic, but he is my preferred choice if he's healthy. Guzan looked very rusty in his first preseason game, we'll see how he can come back. Outside of this 11, I really don't know if the depth is going to be strong enough to compete in three different competitions this season. They have a pretty difficult Leagues Cups draw, and the US Open is never an easy schedule lining up with league matches. I see us being the same as last year: being frustrated with results, but still in the playoff hunt until the end. If injuries and goal scoring consistency can overturn from last season, now we got something to get excited about. I'm very cautious for any excitement, though.
Sorry this is longer than usual...Thanks for viewing our eighth 2023 season preview. There will be a new one out about every single day leading up to MLS kickoff. If you are a passionate fan looking to write about your club, we are actively seeking contributors for MLS clubs this season. If interested, message us on either Twitter or Instagram @MLSNowPodcast. We want to provide an outlet for fans to discuss their club on the site and also guest star on the podcast throughout the season.