The Summer Is All About Your Player Pool.
Only 25% of the 2021 Major League Soccer season is completed and that is a positive from an Atlanta United perspective. Coming off this FIFA international window, the Five Stripes, similar to other teams, come back into the fray with some of their players with their national teams and some dealing with injuries. In Atlanta's case, the ACL injury to Emerson Hyndman and Josef Martinez with Venezuela has manager Gabriel Heinze in a tough situation.
Replacing Hyndman will not be easy. Who does Heinze go with to fill the gaping hole for the balance of the season? Does Hyndman being out for the rest of the season force Heinze to change the shape or style of play? Does Santiago Sosa move into the #6 role and combine with Marcelino Moreno to support that all important 'spine?" Does he plug in the young Franco Ibarra as a like-for-like for Hyndman? How does this play out with the playing time and position of Ezequiel Barco, who is back to playing after a hamstring issue?
As we all found out last year, replacing Josef Martinez in that #9 role is problematic. Martinez, on assignment with Venezuela, may not be back with the Five Stripes until early July. Who does Heinze turn to? Where will the goals come from? With Martinez, Atlanta has only scored nine goals from 7 matches, so without him, who picks up the slack?
The summer transfer window. It seems likely that Atlanta will bring in a player or two to supplement the player pool. Can they find a box-to-box midfielder to fill the gap left by Hyndman's injury? Will another striker be available to help create chances and goals with, or without Josef Martinez in the lineup?
Gabriel Heinze and Atlanta's front office have a good bit of work to do. The team has issues to deal with and they start again Sunday against Jim Curtain's Philadelphia Union. That should be a great game with 40,000+ at Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium.
It is just my take. justmytake.net @gary1123
Photo credit: Philadelphia Enquirer