Atlanta United: Jake Mulraney illustrates their immediate advantage

Atlanta United, Jake Mulraney (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)
Atlanta United, Jake Mulraney (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images) /

Jake Mulraney said he signed for Atlanta United because he heard good things about the club. He illustrates an immediate advantage that the Five Stripes have worked hard to achieve.

Attracting players is a crucial ability of all clubs. When you are competing for the best players in the world, the demand is extremely high and the supply is extremely low. Being able to sell yourself to these players, therefore, is hugely important. You cannot just go wander down the street and go to the next shop to pick another loaf of bread. Great footballers are unique.

On the global scene, this has always been a difficult hurdle for Major League Soccer teams to overcome. They are not the elite league in the world. Their teams do not partake in the European Champions League. The standard of play is much worse, even in comparison to the South American league and Liga MX. Kids do not grow up dreaming of playing in MLS.

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As such, convincing the best players who are available on the global market to join an MLS team is difficult, especially if they still harbour dreams of excelling in Europe. This is where the ‘retirement league’ moniker was born. European-based stars had no interest in joining an MLS team until their European careers were over.

While this hurdle will almost always be in place because MLS teams will never compete in the European Champions League, which is the pinnacle club competition in the world and even has an impact on the attractiveness of some of the biggest teams in European football, in recent years, certain teams have been able to make strides in their attempts to become more attractive propositions to potential signings. And no MLS club has gone further than Atlanta United, who are now the premier club for any potential player to join.

The Five Stripes are one of the most successful expansion teams in MLS history. Of course, much of this is down to their assembling of an excellent team from the moment they took to the pitch. But what makes Atlanta United stand out from the rest is the entire organisation, the investment that went into the entire club, from the brilliant stadium and elite training facilities to immediately attracting the largest fanbase in the league thanks to the city’s football roots.

And this is already having an impact.

This week, new signing Jake Mulraney revealed that it was only once he understood the size of the club, the project that was being built, and the recognised the entire project in Atlanta that he considered switching Stateside. Speaking to, Mulraney said:

"“The first I heard of Atlanta’s interest was in like November, but I didn’t think much of it. Once I had a gist what the club was about, I was attracted definitely. It just seemed like a good option. This would probably not come again, so I just took it.”"

Mulraney also revealed that he spoke to Mo Adams, who he knew from his teenage years. Adams obviously game a glowing review of the Atlanta United life. This is a player who spent all his career in the United Kingdom, developing at Queens Park Rangers before moving north to Scotland. He was competing at a higher level than MLS. And at 23, he chose Atlanta United over remaining there.

There are few teams that Mulraney likely would have made the decision in favour of. Atlanta, the Los Angeles teams, perhaps Seattle, Toronto, maybe the New York teams. This, as you might be able to tell, is a major advantage of these teams.

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It is not unfair, however. Atlanta have worked hard for their advantage, as have the other elite teams in MLS. And now they are reaping the rewards. Atlanta can attract players like Mulraney and others. They will be much the better off for it.