Atlanta United FC: Bringing leadership from Argentina

Atlanta United FC (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)
Atlanta United FC (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The impact forward Lisandro Lopez will go easily into the new Atlanta United FC lineup. Anyone can figure out where he’ll fit. But MLS scouts spend just as much time evaluating those strategic players that get signed. And supporters have a more difficult time figuring out where someone like former Argentinos Juniors midfielder Franco Ibarra will go once his contract gets inked.

There isn’t an extensive book and lots of videos full of metrics. Yet the same Atlanta United scouts who trekked to Argentina and found Lopez full of explosive potential also checked off some boxes on Ibarra’s sheet. And those checks are impossible to ignore. There are some key reasons why the Ibarra deal will get signed.

The 19-year-old midfielder is almost a mirror-image of forward Erik Lopez, who was also 19 last year while starting in Atlanta’s second-leg 1-0 win against Club America in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. While Lopez plays upfront and center as a forward, Ibarra plays back and center as a defensive midfielder.

Lisandro Lopez will have a huge impact on Atlanta United FC

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Ibarra’s scouting report shows that he instinctively moves up to create chances on offense in the attacking third of the pitch.

Yet he remains a prospect for Atlanta. That is until he is signed and shows the team that he is indeed ready.

Once Ibarra passes muster, he’ll platoon in as a sub for Lopez in game situations where Atlanta United has established a lead and needs to emphasize defense.

When it comes to Argentina, Atlanta scouts have a powerful leg up on other MLS teams. United FC boasts former Argentina national team defender Gabriel Heinze as head coach.

Fellow Argentinian Lisandro Lopez comes on a free transfer from Racing Club. He also made appearances with the national team. He’s spent much of his pro career in Europe. He’s the biggest signing so far under head coach Heinze, who only arrived this month to work with staff to assemble next season’s team.

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When not on the pitch during a game, Lisandro Lopez will be a force in leading the young talent to contribute to wins. That young talent includes Erik Lopez and Franco Ibarra. While Erik is further along in development, both players will benefit from guidance to establish their role in Atlanta United FC. Heinze and Lisandro Lopez are in an excellent position to serve as those guides