In 2017 Atlanta United burst onto the soccer world with a high-profile coach in Tata Martino and high-profile players like Miguel Almirón, Héctor Villalba, and Josef Martínez. The results were spectacular, the club consistently plays to over 40,000 fans per game and have won an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup in their short history.
Their winning mentality have brought about many young high-profile signings from South America, they also adapted a philosophy to cash in on top talents. Atlanta United has two of the highest paid outgoing transfer fees in MLS history.
Despite two rough seasons the team is looking for a new coach and to get back to the winning ways that were established under Tata Martino. Here are 13 players that in Atlanta United’s short history have left a mark on the franchise.
13. Eric Remedi
The diminutive Argentine holding midfielder has been a workhorse for the team since his arrival in 2018. Eric Remedi is also a locker room leader in the club and is the source of the team's comic relief with his outgoing personality. On the field, he has contributed heavily to the team by stopping opposing offenses. Remedi has been on all the championship teams the club has won.
12. Brad Guzan
Brad Guzan came to Atlanta United to be the last piece of an already championship caliber team. The former Aston Villa and USMNT goalkeeper has been solid for the stripes since his arrival in 2017, playing in over 100 games and winning every trophy the club has.
11. Yamil Asad
Yamil Asad would be higher on this list had he not left the club in 2017 after the team’s first season. Incredibly still the two superstars brought in to replace him were never as effective. In his lone season he scored 7 goals in 32 games. Asad scored the first goal in club history and was a constant threat on the flank. Both Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, two players who cost 10-times more, did not properly fill Asad’s shoes.
10. Julian Gressel
Fan favorite Julian Gressel was a mainstay for Atlanta for the team’s first three years. In 98 appearances he scored 15 goals and was an engine in the midfield both starting or coming off the bench. Since his departure, the team has lost a leader and a pivotal role player.
9. Darlington Nagbe
One of the players that caught Tata Martino’s eye in 2017 was Darlington Nagbe, and Atlanta moved a lot of salary cap to get him. Nagbe delivered the goods under Tata, he played very well for Atlanta and would play in 56 games and score 2 amazing goals for the club. It was rumored that Nagbe was not too fond of Frank de Boer and he eventually moved on to the Columbus Crew.
8. Leandro González Pírez
The tough defender, LGP as he is known as, Leandro González Pírez, found a place to shine under Tata Martino and Atlanta. Prone to yellow cards, he was defender of the year material his first two seasons. LGP played in 93 games and won three titles, like Nagbe he did not really see eye to eye with De Boer and this may have resulted in his transfer.
7. Franco Escobar
Tata Martino had a good eye for filling out key spots on the team and went to his South American well with the signing of Franco Escobar from Newell’s Old Boys. The flank player is speedy and can be deadly on attack. Escobar has become a leader in Atlanta and scored the teams MLS Cup game winning goal in 2018.
6. Miles Robinson
Miles Robinson is high on this list because of his potential, the USMNT international has 2 caps for the USA already and has played well in his time in Atlanta. There are rumors of a potential move to Europe, while he did not have the best 2020, there is a lot of upside.
5. Jeff Larentowicz
The heart and soul of the team, the expansion draft pick Jeff Larentowicz was an unlikely leader for Atlanta United. Whether in the lineup or on the bench, Larentowicz provided the young South Americans and Tata Martino that MLS veteran experience that was needed early on. He played in over 100 games and won 3 titles with the club.
4. Michael Parkhurst
The clubs first captain, Michael Parkhurst, was a rock defensively for Atlanta United and helped the team win all the trophies they have. Many forget that Parkhurst has USMNT and Champions League experience and all of that paid off as he anchored the backline with González Pírez until he retired in 2019.
3. Héctor Villalba
The Argentine-Paraguay international was the clubs first DP signing and one of the team's main contributors. Villalba scored 21 goals in 82 appearances and won three titles with the team. He was explosive and strong in the attack. He was sold to Libertad of Paraguay due to salary cap issues.
2. Miguel Almirón
Miguel Almirón was one of the best signings in league history, his short time in MLS was nothing short of spectacular. He assisted and dribbled and scored highlight reel goals. He and Josef Martínez formed one of the most lethal one two punches in all of MLS… history. Almirón’s biggest contribution to Atlanta may not have been his play on the field, but rather the huge transfer that Newcastle paid to sign him and his play in the EPL. Atlanta’s formula is best showcased by Miguel Almirón, young players can come to MLS and make the leap to bigger things.
1. Josef Martínez
How important is Josef Martínez to Atlanta United? Martínez was out injured all of 2020 and Atlanta’s attack was miserable. When he is on the field all he does is score goal after goal, Josef Martínez has 90 goals in 103 games across all competitions for the club. He has simply been outstanding.