The Atlanta United expansion draft saw the new club add five players to their squad. All of them were focused on keeping their opponenets from scoring. They took a mix of players who could start right now and players they might dangle in front of other teams in trades.
Atlanta United Expansion Draft Review: Goalkeepers Everywhere
Atlanta made the curious move of selecting two goalkeepers in the draft. This, combined with the fact they already have Alexandros Tabakis on their roster and have shown heavy interest in Brad Guzan, implies they are looking to hold some of those guys as trade chips for protected players.
Overall, they focused on a strong defense. They already have Kenwyne Jones to spearhead their attack and were more interested in shoring themselves up at the back.
Donny Toia- LB, RB from Montreal Impact
Toia was a part time outside defender for Montreal Impact. He started 15 games for the Impact last year at either left or right back. While unable to crack the permanent starting lineup over Ambroise Oyongo and Hassoun Camara, he did show productivity in his limited time. Offensively, he provided a pair of assists for his side and had a 77.4% pass success rate. His real strength is defensive, though. He’s a strong tackler who can avoid fouls while still getting the job done. He can sniff out passes and clear the ball well. He should slot into the Atlanta starting lineup, depending on other players they bring in.
Zach Loyd- CB from FC Dallas
Loyd is a central defender who can also take on minutes at right back. He started 11 matches with FC Dallas last year and nine of them were in the middle of the back line. Like Toia, he struggled to see consistent time in the starting XI, but has what it takes to make the jump. A defense first player, he is very skilled at picking out opposing passes and avoiding mistakes. He’s aggressive, but not overly so. He only had one yellow card in 919 minutes of play last year.
Clint Irwin- GK from Toronto FC
This pick was interesting because of Atlanta’s already stocked goalkeeper situation. Irwin is certainly one of the league’s top keepers, but the team already have they young Alexandros Tabakis and have interest in the experienced Brad Guzan. Irwin could become a trade piece for a future attacking option. Unless, of course, the Guzan move falls through. If that happens, Irwin figures to start in goal for Atlanta.
Mikey Ambrose- LB from Orlando City
Ambrose is clearly a project for the future. He’s only 23 years old and saw very limited playing time last year with Orlando. He started four games at left back and never really stood out as anything. He has plenty of room to develop with the expansion side, but probably doesn’t figure to be part of their starting lineup plans right away.
Alec Kann- GK from Sporting Kansas City
This was probably the most confusing pick of the draft. With Atlanta already controlling two goalkeepers and probably bringing in a third next month, why would they take another one? Kann did see some action with SKC last year while Tim Melia was out. He started seven matches in MLS and kept two clean sheets. He’s 26, so not exactly young, and might benefit from more playing time at the MLS level. With the way Atlanta’s roster is shaping up, he probably won’t get that here. He’s probably going to be used as another trade chip to bring in a midfielder or attacking option.
Atlanta United came into this expansion draft with two goals, it seems. First, they wanted to build a reliable back line that also has room to grow into something better. Second, they wanted to take players who could be attractive to other teams in a trade. Expect Irwin and or Kann to not be on the roster come opening day. One or both will likely be sent away for a better midfield or attacking option.