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Let's talk about the roster

A look at Atlanta United's depth as it stands and what pieces are still needed.


We are officially 16 days away from Atlanta United's 2023 season opener against San Jose Earthquakes and as the countdown ticks closer to zero, we're starting to get a better picture of what personnel the club will start the season with. With the recent news that defender Luis Abram and striker Giorgos Giakoumakis have joined the squad and that the club is working on yet another signing (which I assume will be a center midfielder), we now have an updated picture of what the roster situation is. With that, let's take a look at how the team looks as of the publishing of this post.


Atlanta United Squad Depth as of Feb. 7, 2023

The Good

Considering the significant roster purge that Atlanta United underwent during the offseason in which a total of 13 players either left the club or were loaned out, things are (understandably) pretty thin in some areas of the pitch. However, there are a few areas that look pretty solid. Namely, the goalkeeper situation.


Atlanta United currently has three goalkeepers on the first-team roster and two from the second team, Garces and Reyes, who are naturally the next in line should the first three be unavailable. Now, does a team need five goalkeepers? Probably not, but I guess the club wants to avoid a repeat of last year where two goalkeepers went down with season-ending injuries and the squad was unable to find a good fit for the remainder of the season.


Another area that is pretty well covered is the fullback position with three players that could play on each side. As long as the team doesn't suffer a bad run of injuries like they did last season, they should be well-covered in the wide defensive areas.


Assuming the third signing Pineda rumored on Monday is indeed a center midfielder, the team would have plenty of depth with four players in the center of the field. With no idea who the player is or even how close the deal is to being completed, it's impossible to accurately give him a place on the depth chart. Nevertheless, one would assume from Pineda's earlier statement on the three incoming signings that this one is meant to be a starter. If that's the case, getting this signing over the line could be crucial to having a significant midfield presence this season.


The Bad

To put it bluntly, things are pretty thin at striker. Ok, they're REALLY thin. With Giakoumakis as the obvious starter, the only other true striker is Jackson Conway who's only proven himself in USL with the 2's. For this depth chart, I also included Machop Chol as a potential striker since he played a preseason game in that position. There could also be an argument for having Luiz Araújo at the number nine or Thiago Almada playing as a false nine but considering Araújo is a more effective winger and Atlanta has never deployed Almada in that role before, I decided not to reflect that in this depth chart.


The Five Stripes are also pretty thin in the attacking midfield position where there are just two players who could naturally play the position: Almada and Tyler Wolff. With Almada's potential departure in the summer leaving a pretty significant gap, one has to think that this is one of the positions the team will look to strengthen in the summer.


Finally, the team has four center backs to share among both center back positions - that means two and two. It's not ideal, but at least there's some depth. However, if even one injury occurs, things will start to get pretty dicey. Perhaps you could bring up someone from the 2's in a pinch, but you'll be lacking some much-needed experience and cohesion (and we all know from last season just how damaging that can be).


Conclusions

Things are looking much better today than they were weeks ago: the team now has a proven goalscorer to lead the line and an exciting center back to tighten up the defense. Are there still pieces missing? Yes, but there's a foundation for this team to start the season strong and get itself into a good spot by the summer. Given Garth Lagerwey's style of being more active in the summer transfer window, I'm sure we will see those holes filled then.






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