A neat feature of Major League Soccer’s expansion is the ability to watch a team take shape.
Atlanta United doubles that fascination thanks to Tata Martino helming the project along with club president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra.
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With the expansion draft looming, Atlanta has made a big addition in the form of its second Designated Player. Martino has tabbed 23-year-old Miguel Almiron, a 7-times capped Paraguay playmaker who was tipped to join Arsenal as recently as August.
“Miguel is a player I’ve long admired,” Atlanta United head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said. “He is a very skillful player with excellent technique and great vision. He is currently one of the best players in Argentina’s top league and we’re really excited that he’s joining Atlanta United.”
Almiron was primarily a left winger at Argentine club Lanus this season, but can also play centrally as an attacking midfielder or on the right.
With fellow DP Hector Villalba in the mix as an attacking mid and Kenwyne Jones the projected center forward, Atlanta has a heck of a front line coming together (And may be close to acquiring goalkeeper Sean Johnson from Chicago).
Put it this way: it’s December 5, and an expansion team can already boast the following front five.
XXXX — XXXX — XXXX — XXXX
Chris McCann — XXXX
Junior Burgos — Villalba — Almiron
Now imagine that Brad Evans and/or Christian Dean are left unprotected in the expansion draft, as speculated by MLSSoccer.com. That’s a respectable if not relatively successful looking squad come day one (and before ex-Barca boss Martino gets Leo Messi on loan (of course we’re 100 percent kidding)).
Dirty South Soccer also shares reports that Martino could land three players, including a left and center back, from Argentine standouts Newell’s Old Boys.
Valenzuela is an 18-year-old left back who has cracked into the first team at Newell’s this year. Valenzuela is a 21-year-old center back who was in the mix as a young player when Martino managed the squad in 2013 prior to leaving for Barcelona.
Imagine if Atlanta could land, against probability and the player’s statements on his near future, Andres Guardado as a third DP to pair with McCann or another defensive midfielder.