1. There is no replacement for Josef Martinez
The early transfers from Heinze were predominantly attacking-minded, but as the window closed, much of the attention turned to Alan Franco and a potential centerback to line up next to Miles Robinson.
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Now that Franco has scooped the DP spot, the striker gap just became even more obvious. Martinez, who scored more over 30 goals in both 2018 and 2019, was never going to immediately return to what he was after tearing his ACL last season. Having only starting the second leg against Alajuelense in the CCL, Martinez has only made punctuated appearances in all three games so far. When Martinez does play, he is not that effective. He does not look like he trusts his knee when making runs in behind, and he certainly does not want to gamble on challenges he previously would have. All this is expected, but Lisandro Lopez has apparently made a name for himself with Heinze, because he looks to be the first choice.
The issue with Lopez is two-fold. One: his age and proficiency just are not there. At 38, Lopez is so far below where he would need to be, in order to fit Atlanta’s and Heinze’s style of play. Lopez looks to mainly play with his back to goal and connect the attack into the final third between Emerson Hyndman and the wingers. This leaves a gap where a striker should be threatening. Two: Erik Lopez and Cubo Torres exist, are fit, and are on the roster. Lopez, a 19-year-old Paraguayan, spent 2020 with the second team, but was more prolific than Lisandro Lopez in the small sample of appearances he had in his home country before coming to Atlanta. And while Torres has not had a double-digit-goal season since 2017, he at least gets in behind the defensive line and has a better conversion rate than the four goals in 28 appearances Lisandro Lopez had in the 2019-20 season.