If you say that you are mine, I'll be here till the end of time.
Thanks The Clash for providing the perfect title for this article. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a survey on Twitter, Instagram, and the Atlanta United subreddit. I got 141 responses to the survey, so thank you to everyone who participated.
The survey was simple. It listed each player on the roster (including those on loan) and asked fans if they should stay or go at the end of the season. Then, I allowed the respondents to explain their answers.
I'll start with the players and wrap it up with the results for Pineda and Bocanegra.
So without further ado, let's dive into the results.
First, we're going to take a look at some of the players that the grand majority of you want to stick around. For this segment, I'll only be including the players that had about 70% or greater "stay" vote followed by a quick blurb summarizing your reasonings and my thoughts.
Thiago Almada: 92.9%
Almada has often looked like the best player on the pitch when he plays, especially with the team's current run of form. His youth and talent are a big advantage, he just needs time and the right players to support him.
Luiz Araújo: 92.9%
No surprise here. Araújo is undoubtedly elite for MLS. His skill and ability to destabilize defenses is an asset to the attack and there are some days when he looks like the best in the league.
I must say that I love watching him dribble past defenders and show off his skill, but sometimes he gets just a little too caught up in that. On occasion (especially when the team is losing), he tries to be the team hero and refuses to pass the ball. Hopefully, he stays for another season, though.
George Campbell: 77.3%
The main reason a lot of you want Campbell to stay is his youth. He's a 20-year-old homegrown and has plenty of time and talent to become a quality center back. Many say he's going to be the next Miles Robinson, and he very well might. Has he made several blockheaded mistakes this season? Sure. However, you need to realize that the plan for him at the beginning of the season was never for him to play as a regular starter but to maybe come off the bench or fill in as depth and gain some experience behind Robinson and Franco. Campbell has the potential, we just have to be patient and give him time to get there.
Ronaldo Cisneros: 80.1%
Cisneros did a great job of stepping in for Josef at the beginning of the season and clearly shows key traits of a true number nine. His pace and ability to create space for himself in the box have made him instrumental in games and he's the team's leading scorer this season with seven goals. My only problem with him is his inconsistency, but I guess he can't be blamed for the constant lineup changes and the difficult decision of starting him or Josef. However, with Josef's performance in decline, Cisneros could find himself in a more permanent position as the team's lead striker.
Dom Dwyer: 83.7%
He's shown tons of passion to be here since day one and brings tons of MLS experience. When the news of him coming from Toronto (where he did next to nothing) came through, I was initially skeptical. However, Dwyer has proven to be a valuable super-sub that has come through when it matters most. His minimal hit on the salary cap is also a big plus.
Andrew Gutman: 95%
Name a bigger work-horse on this team than Andrew Gutman. I'll wait. He's been absolutely crucial this season and stepped in nicely for George Bello. He gets forward well, plays the ball intelligently, and is quick to track back to defend. He freaking rocks and brings loads of quality to the team.
Oh, and he scored that golazo against Seattle at the death to win the game. Yeah, he's a keeper.
Brooks Lennon: 76.6%
No player has been as consistent for Atlanta over the past three seasons as Brooks Lennon. He's had 78 appearances for the Five Stripes and played a whopping 6,240 minutes for the club. He's a dangerous player down the right side and linked up very well with Araújo before being sidelined by a knee injury. It's a good thing he's getting back on the field, but fortunately, someone has been able to step in nicely for him...
Aiden McFadden: 70.2%
He was an absolute joy to watch with the 2's and has really shined with the first team since Lennon's injury. He's a warrior on the pitch and pressures well in the attacking and middle thirds. His crosses are excellent and he's shown he has much to offer for a small salary cap hit. His only drawback is that he isn't great at defending around the box, so some opponents are really able to feast on that side.
Miles Robinson: 97.2%
Can't say a bad thing about Miles. He's without a doubt one of the best center backs in the league and very unfortunate to become a victim of the Atlanta United injury spell. He'll have to watch this World Cup from the stands, but he'll surely be getting ready to make a comeback next season and show that he's still got a bright future ahead.
Santiago Sosa: 68.8%
When Sosa arrived last season, he was often the bright spot of an otherwise lackluster team. He's an absolute beast in midfield and clearly plays with much heart for the team. So what's been the problem this season? The loads of time he's missed. At the beginning of the season, he was one of the players with visa problems. Later, he missed several weeks with an injury and was further kept out after contracting COVID-19. Fortunately, it looks like all of that is behind him and he's slowly getting his rhythm back, so keeping him on seems like the wisest move.
Juan Jose Sánches Purata: 80.9%
Purata hasn't played a whole lot yet, but he's looked great so far. He's stepping in well to the role of on-field communicator and has helped organize Gonzalo Pineda's defense. He's only on loan, but if he's brought back next season, it'll be interesting to see what he can do with Miles Robinson at his side.
Caleb Wiley: 90.1%
This youngster is a joy to watch at times, but he's been handed the huge task of being a consistent starter at just 17 years old. He's been relegated to left back, where he's struggled defensively, but he has shown moments of brilliance in the attack. Bottom line: he's young, he's talented, and has a future at the club. It'll be exciting to see how he develops.
Now, let's take a look at the players that the grand majority of you guys want gone. Funny enough, both of these are being loaned out.
Ezequiel Barco: 82.1%
This wonder kid was... less than wonderful. He did some good stuff with the team on occasion, but it was clear from the start that he was going to be trouble. Almada was brought in to replace him and the team has no designated player slots open, so Atlanta needs to find a way to move him out to comply with MLS roster rules. Either way, it doesn't seem that he was super thrilled about playing in MLS anyways...
Erik Lopez: 69.3%
When he was announced, he sounded like a really promising U22 signing, but his performance with the team left much to be desired. According to the MLS Players Association, he's still on the team's books with a $528,000 salary, so transferring him would free up a considerable amount of money and cap space to find a better player.
Alright, now here's where the data gets interesting. We're about to get to the players that y'all had mixed feelings on. For these, we'll also show you the graphs so you can see all of the data for yourselves.
Osvaldo Alonso: 40% Go
The thing about Ozzie is that he's old and coming off a season-ending injury. At 36, it's not easy to get back to the level he was at pre-torn ACL (I mean, just look at Josef who's much younger). I know a majority of you said he should go, but an interesting possibility would be adding him to Pineda's coaching staff. That way, his leadership and veteran experience could still be of use even if he isn't necessarily on the field.
Mikey Ambrose: Go
I'm not sure how to best say it, but Ambrose just doesn't have a good place with the team. He's not starting quality and he's so far down the depth chart that Pineda prefers to play Ronaldo Cisneros at left wing back than him (remember that Columbus game?). The main upside to him is that he has a minimal hit on the salary cap, but other than that, he's just... there. The team could definitely try to move him out, but I'm not sure any teams will take him. Either way, his roster spot could be used on a younger player with more potential.
Machop Chol: Stay
I get the split here: he hasn't played many minutes with the team, but he at least looks decent when he does. He's only 23, so he still has some room for improvement (also he has an adorable friendship with Marcelino Moreno). He's also on a homegrown contract and a small cap hit, so it's not a terrible idea to keep him on a little while longer. Besides, I love to think that whenever Pineda subs him on, he says "Machop, I choose you!"
Jackson Conway: Go
Conway has had plenty of chances to make an impact but has made many of us want to scream when he inexplicably flubs it. He's a mystery. Somehow, he can only score with the 2's. Maybe it's stage fright when he knows he's in front of many more eyes during MLS games? I don't know, but what I do know is that Atlanta now has plenty of depth at striker with Dwyer, Josef, and Cisneros. Conway is 20, so maybe they can keep him with the 2's a while longer and see if he improves. But it looks like most of you are ready to move on, and I am too.
Alex De John: Go
When Miles Robinson first got injured, De John stepped in pretty well for him. His height gave him an advantage in the air and he was a real warrior in the back. Unfortunately, those good performances didn't last long and the entrance of Juanjo Purata saw him back on the bench. Even though De John is a veteran player and decent depth, he's slow and that often leaves him unable to track back and defend in time. Perhaps it'd be best to look for a younger, faster option? Many of you seem to think so.
Alan Franco: Go
I like to compare Franco to Two-Face because he can either be a really good defender or the worst ever and it almost seems like he flips a coin to decide which he'll be during a game. He does like to push up a bit, so he's sometimes caught out of position, but he at least tackles intelligently and uses his strength to good effect. However, soccer is a sport where consistency is key and Atlanta United can't afford to rely on a defender that is as unpredictable as he is. Besides, moving him out would free up the cap and roster space to bring on a more reliable player.
Brad Guzan: Go
I feel for Guz, I really do. He's been with the club since season one and has brought us much joy (including some good saves during MLS Cup 2018). However, there comes a time when the body just can't keep up, and this might be that time. The average age for professional goalkeepers to retire is 38, the age that Guzan will be in September. Not only that, but he's coming off of an achilles injury that will certainly affect him when he returns. Atlanta currently has Rocco Ríos Novo and Raúl Gudiño, both of which are much younger and are showing great potential. Sorry Guz, it's been a good run.
Ronald Hernández: Stay
Hernández is good depth and very versatile. At just 24, he still has most of his career ahead of him and plenty of room to develop. Of course, with the emergence of homegrown fullbacks like Wiley and McFadden, Hernández might fall by the wayside a bit, but I think he's still got more to give the club right now.
Emerson Hyndman: Stay
Hyndman is actually a pretty good player when he's on the field, but he spends most of his time in the hospital. He missed most of last season with an ACL tear and is now out with a quad injury. Hopefully, he can come back strong and stay healthy, because the team could sure use a little more depth in midfield with Matheus Rossetto injured.
Franco Ibarra: Stay
Ibarra sort of flew under the radar last season with Santiago Sosa playing a majority of the games in midfield. However, Sosa missed quite a bit of time this season, and Ibarra was given the nod to hold down the fort. Despite his young age, Ibarra has shown a lot of heart and an ability to win the ball back. With Sosa back, he's being relegated to depth, but he's got a bright future and he'll be a good player to keep around.
Josef Martínez: Stay
Yep. It's time to talk about the big guy. It goes without saying that Josef has given his all to Atlanta and has brought much joy to the city, but is it time to let go? Most of you don't seem to think so. His recent performances have left much to be desired and it's clear that he's far from the player he once was, but Pineda still seems to favor him as the striker over Cisneros. Maybe he's hoping, as many of us are, that scoring just one goal will renew his motivation and put him back on the road to being an elite MLS striker. He's also going to have a baby boy soon, so perhaps that provides even more motivation.
Marcelino Moreno: Stay... barely
Here's the thing: Moreno isn't a bad player. He clearly has tons of skill and is a huge asset to the team. However, he sometimes seems to think that he's another famous Argentine player who can easily dribble past an entire team. While he may get past a couple on occasion, the more likely outcome is that he's dispossessed and the play dies. When I watch him play, I sometimes find myself screaming at him to PASS THE DAMN BALL. While most of you are fine with keeping him, many of you want to see the club trade him. Honestly, I don't blame you.
Matheus Rossetto: Go
When he was first announced as a talented, young, Brazilian player, I think most of us were expecting to have the next Fabinho on our hands. Well... he turned out to be very underwhelming. He has a nasty habit of not wanting to pass the ball forward, which severely decreases the pace of the team in transition. He's also being paid a whopping $550,000 salary, making him the sixth highest paid player on the team. Is he worth the price tag? Most of you don't think so, and I'm inclined to agree.
Rocco Ríos Novo: Stay... barely
When Bobby Shuttleworth was starting at goal-statue after Guzan's injury, I was one of those that vehemently argued to start Ríos Novo. While he does still make a few rookie mistakes (expected for such a young player), he's developing really well now that he's getting minutes. Sure, his shot-stopping could use some work, but he's got the space to grow, so I'm fine with him staying.
Amar Sejdić: Stay
Sejdić is an ok depth piece, but he isn't much else beyond that. He doesn't get a whole lot of playing time, but when he does, he's pretty... mid. The big upside about him is that he has a small cap hit for his value. Would I be fine with trading him? Yes. The midfield could use a nice touch-up and Sejdić is probably how the team makes room for that.
Tyler Wolff: Stay
While he hasn't accomplished huge feats in a five-stripe uniform quite yet, the 19-year-old homegrown is showing tons of potential. He looks phenomenal with the US U-20 national team and is just getting started in his career. Let's hope that he grabs some good experience playing in Belgium and comes back looking to make a statement.
Last but not least, time to see what you all think of the big guys.
Gonzalo Pineda: Stay
Have we had a rough season? Yes. Has Pineda made some questionable decisions at times? Absolutely. However, he still feels like the right man to lead the team going forward. The players seem happy to play under him and the team could sure use a break from changing coaches every year. Besides, who can blame the coach for the injuries that have caused over a dozen players to lose time (including four season-ending injuries)? I think the right move is to give him at least until the end of the season, but I might even argue to let him stay on for next season.
Carlos Bocanegra: Go... not even close
Yeah, you all were pretty passionate about this one. There's no excuse for the team to be where it is with the resources it has. So many players have passed through this team in the past three years that have done next to nothing (see Sal Zizzo, Adam Jahn, and *shudders* Brek Shea). The roster building has been atrocious and there seems to be little else in the team's signing strategies than finding a promising, young player and hoping that they can flip him for big bucks. Unfortunately, that hasn't been successful since Miguel Almiron's sale to Newcastle. I'll give him credit for finding players like Luiz Araújo and Juanjo Purata who have proven themselves to be very valuable, but questions still need to be asked about whether that's enough to let him continue. You guys don't think so, and I don't either.
And that wraps up the results! Once again thank you to everyone who took the time to answer the survey. I know it was a bit long and perhaps a little tedious, but I hope it was worth it in the end. Also, make sure to follow us on social media so you won't miss any content like this.