We are just about two weeks away from the 2018 MLS SuperDraft (Friday, January 19). With Atlanta having a total of four selections in the draft (one in each round) the Five Stripes will look to add squad depth for the first team, while also stockpiling talent for the new USL squad.
There are no blatant areas of weakness in the first team squad at the moment, assuming that a certain Argentine winger is on his way into town, but when looking at the current roster here are a few areas that ATL could be looking to add some more depth in:
It is always a safe bet to add more center backs to your roster, right now as cover for LGP and and Michael Parkhurst they have last years top SuperDraft pick Miles Robinson, newly acquired utility defender Franco Escobar, and in dire situations makeshift centerback Jeff Larentowicz. Robinson spent most of the season last year on loan with the Charleston Battery and it is unclear which squad he will be apart of for the upcoming season. Escobar is projected to be the first team’s starting right back so if he is also a backup option in the heart of defense that will leave the team thin at right back as well. As for Larentowicz, he is a natural defensive midfielder who is expected to take on a lesser role in midfield in comparison to last season so it is also possible that he could be used at center back if necessary.
This may be a bit of a surprise considering all the attacking options Atlanta has on their roster. This being said they do not have many true #9’s on the roster; lots of their forwards are either natural wingers or so called “playmakers”. Obviously Josef Martinez will be the first choice and we have makeshift options in case he is not available but the lack of like for like substitutes could be a problem. Tito Villalba filled in tremendously playing through the middle for a good chunk of the season last year, but if he is able to stay in the wide position while also having a true #9, that fits Tata’s style, on the field I think we would be a lot better off. Two names that come to mind that are already on the roster are Brandon Vazquez and Romario Williams. Vazquez was more often than not used in a wide role last season so it is expected that Tata will keep him in that role. As for Williams it is unclear if he will be on the first team or USL roster; and if he fits into Tata’s style of play.
After researching the draft board and considering the selection order here are a few realistic options that could be on their way to ATL:
Alberto Ruiz – Florida Gulf Coast – F
Ruiz is a creative goal scorer from Barcelona, Spain. He was injured for the first half of his senior season but still finished tied for third on the team in goals with four. In his junior year he led all of division 1 by a wide margin with 22 goals. His goal scoring record in college speaks for itself, its tough to ignore that kind of output. He would fit in well with the attractive style that the Five Stripes play.
Wyatt Omsberg – Dartmouth College – CB
Omsberg is a towering 6’4 center back, who was a 4 year starter at the Ivy league school. He anchored the Dartmouth backline that allowed less than 13 goals against each of his last three years. Not only did he excel in defense but he also scored 10 goals in his college career. Omsberg would be great fit in ATL; competing with Miles Robinson and learning by watching LGP would do wonders for his development.
Markus Fjortoft – Duke University – CB
Fjortoft is a 6’5 Norwegian center back at Duke. He has been a stalwart on the Blue Devil Back line all four years he was there, starting and leading the defense in every single game while in college. He is a tall, commanding center back who is also comfortable in possession, which would make for another great fit in ATL.
Sam Gainford – Akron University – W
Gainford is a forward from Liverpool, England. He was apart of the Liverpool academy from the age of 10 up until moving to the U.S for college, playing at each youth level up to u18. He is a very versatile forward who is capable of playing anywhere across the front line and attacking midfield. Gainford finished his career at Akron with 25 goals and 17 assists, with his best season being his last as he scored 10 and assisted on 5. He would also fit in well with the attacking group in ATL since he so dynamic and versatile.
The whole draft board can be found on Top Drawer Soccer. Is there a player that you think Atlanta United should draft?