A new season is upon us, with the Battery set to begin their preseason tournament, the Carolina Challenge Cup, in just under a month.
For MLS sides, the hard work has already begun, with the MLS SuperDraft signaling the spiritual start of the new campaign. Given that the Battery are affiliated with MLS’ Atlanta United, fans should have an eye on ATL UTD’s picks, as they could be seeing them sooner rather than later.
Like with Alex Tambakis, Andrew Carleton, Jeffery Otoo, and a few others from last year, there is a good chance that one or more ATL draft picks could land in Charleston to gain some vital experience.
In the four rounds of the draft, Atlanta United selected a goalkeeper, a defender and two midfielders. Goalkeeper Alex Kapp, out of Creighton, had an 81% save percentage in 18 games in his senior year, and so might be looked upon to be a crucial last line of defense in Atlanta’s first season.
Defender Miles Robinson, who ATL chose with the second overall pick in the Draft, seems like a tall, rangy, athletic sort of defender with an eye for a pass and strength to hold his own in the challenge.
Midfielders Julian Gressel and Anthony Wheeler-Omiunu both show ability in the middle of the park in different roles. Atlanta’s own twitter seems to be highlighting Wheeler’s passing ability, while Gressel seems to be more of an attacking threat, having been the Providence leader in Points during his 2016 season with 15 goals and 6 assists.
The best bet to learn who’s going to be finding themselves in the Holy City would be to look at Atlanta’s roster, at least in a couple of cases. Goalkeepers Alec Kann and the aforementioned Tambakis are the only ones on the books for Atlanta at the minute, so it’s possible that Tata Martino’s staff could send a third choice ‘keeper down for experience and playing time. You may see them rotate for the first couple of weeks to see what works and what doesn’t.
As for Robinson, Greg Garza and Zack Loyd are the ones who stick out at you for center-back, making Robinson a possible third choice and maybe a candidate for playing time in Charleston, but given the fact that Loyd is versatile, and also that Robinson seems to have certain tools that belie his years a little, it’s possible that Loyd may shift to make room for him.
The midfield is a little bit harder to say. Atlanta signed Argentian Hector Villalba as a DP as their first “major signing” and followed that up with Chris McCann. Both of those would most likely hold down spots in the XI for different reasons. Given the fact that there are a few more options in Wheeler’s department, including Jeff Larentowicz, and Miguel Almiron, it’s possible that Wheeler could be headed to Charleston.
Julian Gressel is another possibility, but his numbers may bode well toward his chances in Atlanta. Gressel is seen as a #10 or #8, which fits his style. It’s also worth noting that for the most part, Atlanta’s roster is young, so that’s another thing to put into the equation.
Of course, it’s highly likely that players we saw last year, such as Romario Williams, Tambakis and Otoo could be back this campaign, but it’s still up in the air until official word is given.
So, with a month left until CCC, it’s full steam ahead toward the new season. Stay tuned for more news in the lead up.
FEATURED IMAGE: MILES ROBINSON AND JULIAN GRESSEL POSE FOR PHOTOS AT MLS SUPERDRAFT. SOURCE: ATLANTA UNITED TWITTER/MLS