Atlanta United FC has been a melting pot of talent, especially when it comes to international flair. But which foreign players have truly left an indelible mark on the club? It’s a question that sparks debates among fans and experts alike.
If you’re looking to settle the score, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list that not only celebrates these athletes but also analyzes what makes them so special to the Five Stripes.
1. Miguel Almirón
Miguel Almirón, a key figure in the rise of Atlanta United FC, is recognized as one of the top international players to ever grace the team with his soccer skills.
Brought on board as a ‘Young Designated Player’, Almirón quickly emerged as the team’s driving force, notching his first goals in the club’s second game, an impressive 6–1 win against Minnesota United FC. His exceptional performance bagged him seven Team of the Week recognitions and two Player of the Week awards.
In the 2018 season, Almirón’s remarkable contributions of 12 goals and 14 assists turned the tide for the team, playing a key role in propelling them to an MLS Cup victory.
This achievement further solidified his place as an invaluable player to the club and a favorite among Atlanta United FC fans.
His tenure at Atlanta United FC has been marked by consistency, drive, and an unyielding commitment to the game, making him an unforgettable asset to the team.
2. Josef Martínez
Josef Martínez stands as a beacon of skill and perseverance in Major League Soccer, leaving an indelible mark on Atlanta United FC with his outstanding performances.
In 2017, he battled injury setbacks but displayed an impressive resolve to bounce back, demonstrating his strength by scoring hat tricks in two back-to-back games. This triumphant return saw him honored as the MLS Player of the Month in September.
Martínez’s debut season was nothing short of spectacular, as he netted 20 goals across all tournaments. This impressive tally positioned him in the top five of the league’s scoring charts and played a key role in Atlanta’s journey to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
His ability to adapt, his unyielding spirit, and a natural knack for finding the net have permanently etched his name into Atlanta United FC’s records.
Martínez’s performance has labeled him as one of the best foreign players to have ever played for Atlanta United FC. His invaluable contributions have undoubtedly reinforced Atlanta’s reputation as a powerful contender in the MLS.
3. Thiago Almada
Thiago Almada, the Argentine professional soccer star, swiftly left a significant imprint in Major League Soccer with his move to the Georgia-based club in 2022.
This energetic midfield dynamo is recognized for his nimbleness and ability to score goals. His first appearance with Atlanta United was in a pre-season contest against the Mexican team, C.D. Guadalajara.
On 19 March 2022, Almada reached a critical milestone by scoring his inaugural MLS goal in a game against CF Montréal. He continued to dazzle in the 2023 season, earning the MLS Player of the Week honor after netting two goals in a clash against San Jose Earthquakes.
With Almada’s significant contributions, Atlanta United’s success has seen a considerable boost. Now, let’s talk about the next impactful player, Ezequiel Barco.
4. Ezequiel Barco
Ezequiel Barco, hailing from Argentina, has etched his name in the annals of Major League Soccer. His historic transfer to the team from Georgia in 2018 has been a game-changer.
With his Atlanta United debut, he embarked on an impressive journey in American soccer, establishing himself as a standout player.
- Barco made his first appearance for Atlanta United on 15 April 2018, in a match that ended in a 2–2 draw against New York City FC.
- On 5 May 2018, Barco netted his first goal for the club, a stunning event in a match against the Chicago Fire.
- His decisive role in Atlanta United’s triumphant 2018 MLS Cup campaign against the Portland Timbers can’t be overlooked.
- Barco’s efforts also played a significant role in the club’s victories in both the Campeones Cup and U.S. Open Cup final.
As we continue discussing Atlanta United’s international talent pool, we’re excited to introduce our next player, Carlos Carmona.
5. Carlos Carmona
Chilean-born Carlos Carmona made quite a splash in Major League Soccer upon his signing with Atlanta United FC, a Georgia-based team, in February 2017.
His previous stint at Atalanta, where he made 32 appearances and aided their return to pinnacle soccer, provided a wealth of knowledge that he brought to his new team.
His start at Atlanta United was a bit rough with a red card in his debut and a defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls.
However, Carmona quickly regained his pace and became a vital piece of Atlanta United’s game plans. His maiden goal was in May 2017, a significant landmark in his tenure with the team.
Carmona’s inclusion in the team didn’t just enhance the game techniques but also brought an international touch to the roster. His performance and skill set indeed strengthened his position as one of the top foreign players for Atlanta United.
6. Justin Meram
In the sphere of Major League Soccer, Justin Meram is a name that rings a bell. He became part of the Georgia-based team in 2019 and made a significant mark with his impressive performances. One of his most remarkable games was against the Montreal Impact when he scored twice.
- The experienced player was snapped up for $100,000 in GAM along with a 2nd round draft pick.
- Meram’s performance at Atlanta United was so exceptional that Carlos Bocanegra, the technical director, labeled him as a ‘proven commodity in MLS’.
- He was instrumental in securing a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact, thanks to his two goals.
- Regrettably, his contract option was not picked up after the season ended.
Even though Meram’s stint with Atlanta United was brief, his impact was undeniably significant. Now, we turn our spotlight onto another influential player, Darlington Nagbe.
7. Darlington Nagbe
Following Justin Meram, Darlington Nagbe is another remarkable international player who has fortified Atlanta United FC’s frontline.
He was signed in December 2017 in a deal worth several million dollars, joining Atlanta’s prolific attack under Tata Martino, which had amassed the second-highest goal tally the year before. His presence has not only powered the attack, but has also provided a valuable reinforcement to the midfield.
With a fixed compensation of $620,000 for the 2018 MLS season, Nagbe has demonstrated his value through his impressive ball control skills and tenacity.
Here’s a snapshot of Nagbe’s profile:
|Atlanta United acquired Nagbe on||December 13, 2017|
|Purchase Amount||$1.05 million (plus $600,000 based on performance)|
|2018 MLS Season Compensation||$620,000|
|Previous Team||Portland Timbers|