A look at who stays, who leaves and what it could mean for the club.
Atlanta United released its year-end roster moves on Monday following the turbulent 2022 season.
Here's a quick snippet of the club's press release:
Atlanta United today announced its year-end roster moves ahead of the 2023 MLS season. In addition to the 24 players already under contract for 2023, the club exercised contract options on Ozzie Alonso, George Campbell, Jackson Conway, Aiden McFadden, Miles Robinson, Matheus Rossetto and Juanjo Purata.
The club declined contract options on Dylan Castanheira, Raúl Gudiño and Bryce Washington. Mikey Ambrose, Alex De John and Amar Sejdić are out of contract. The club remains in active discussions with Sejdić. The loans for Ronaldo Cisneros and Rocco Ríos Novo expire at the end of the calendar year.
So let's dissect this bit by bit.
First, three goalkeepers will be leaving the club, leaving a recovering Brad Guzan and Justin Garces from the 2s as the only remaining options between the posts. While Guzan does seem to be working hard for a comeback next season, he's 38 and coming off an Achilles injury. He's probably not going to be as agile as before and his reaction speed is probably not going to be fantastic. First of all, I assume Garces will be more involved with the first team this season and may even start in some Open Cup matches. He's been developing nicely with the 2s, so it should be fun to see what he can do. However, I also expect the club to turn to the transfer market for some additional depth and a more long-term starter.
With confirmation that Cisneros' buy option was not triggered and the news that Josef Martínez won't be returning for the 2023 season, the Five Stripes now need to add a starting striker and striker depth to their offseason shopping list. I honestly don't mind Cisneros leaving. Sure he had that hat trick against Chicago and had a few special moments throughout the season, but he's missing one thing that doomed him (and the team as a whole) - consistency. Between his changing positions in Gonzalo Pineda's system and his mostly tame form in front of goal, he just was never the right player to lead the line.
A rather... interesting... decision was to exercise the option on Rossetto's contract. Rossetto has been with the club for almost three years and has yet to show a fraction of the potential that he was supposed to have when he first arrived. In his 64 matches with the Five Stripes, Rossetto has yet to score and has a single assist to his name. His general play is so predictable and can be simplified in two words: back pass. He's very slow to move the ball forward, which often kills any attempt of a quick counterattack. The midfield was the main problem this season and the decision to keep a player that has consistently underperformed is baffling. Hopefully, he is only kept as depth, but even then I can't help but think that there are MANY better options out there that could be brought in on that $550,000 salary.
When I did a survey earlier this year asking fans which players should stay or leave, Rossetto was one that many fans wanted to go. I think this comment from the survey perfectly sums up Rossetto:
"You know how there are mid-table teams in Eastern Europe with Brazilian players primarily because they're Brazilian? That's Rossetto. If Rossetto was the exact same player but he was American, he's in the USL."
Finally, I hope the club can work something out with Sejdic for a couple of reasons: first, his lower salary adds a lot of flex to the rest of the roster. Second, his performance was improving toward the end of the season and he was even a starter for the last few games. You can clearly see the fight in Sejdic and he has the potential to be good depth and value for the squad.