Atlanta United: Is Gabriel Heinze too much or just enough for club?

Atlanta United, Gabriel Heinze (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
Atlanta United, Gabriel Heinze (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images) /

The talk around Atlanta United, especially toward the end of de Boer’s reign, typically pertained to how harmful the revolving-door structure became at the club. Fast forward two years and the same issue is still occurring. The only difference now is that fans appear to be happy with so much change because of the previous season. Again, Five Stripe fans are going to see a team much different than the one from the past couple of seasons, but they should not expect it to look the same way it did under Tata Martino

Gabriel Heinze, Atlanta United’s new manager, has taken no time acquainting himself at the club and bringing in players that he knows can perform in his system: a 4-3-3 with an inverted triangle in the midfield. There’s a lot of forward momentum in Heinze’s style of play, and a concession of many goals that come with it. The fast transitioning style is something Atlanta fans want back, but the personnel in the defense may make it harder to play this way in 2021.

Fernando Meza has not been a step up from LGP, and he is two years older than the Inter Miami man. Meza also turned 30 in 2020; a replacement seems imminent. The club is lining everything up to look at Homegrown, and 16-year-old, Efrain Morales.

Expect many changes on Atlanta United

More from MLS Multiplex

The same way Bello was occasionally used in 2017 and 2018, Morales will start to ease his way into the first team. But there are a lot of “ifs” on whether or not he is ready.

Miles Robinson is a solid anchor, having taken over the role from former captain Michael Parkhurst. This leaves a rotation of several fullbacks to fill in a box-to-box role. Many of them, however; do not seem keen on the defensive aspect of the position though (all eyes on Franco Escobar and Brooks Lennon).

All this leads to the point that Atlanta United, and Heinze more specifically, are changing out a lot of cogs in their new machine, but they have typically been attacking-minded modifications.

Erik Lopez was already set to join the first time; he plays as a striker or false nine. Former academy player Machop Chol signed a homegrown contract; he plays as a right winger. 37-year-old Lisandro Lopez is also expected to join per Heinze’s request; an out-and-out number nine.

light. Must Read. Breaking down a wild week of big MLS transfers

Outside of these changes, Paul McDonough has rejoined as VP of Soccer operations. He had the heaviest hand in building the 2018 squad with Tata, but that team had instinctive leaders in the back, something this team does not… yet. It is hard to think of a defensive leader coming from the MLS Superdraft but based on the squad Heinze, McDonough and Bocanegra have in front of them, it seems like the most obvious position to look for.