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Atlanta United - A MLS Story

  1. Atlanta United - A MLS Story

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-atlanta_mls.svg.png

    Greetings everyone and welcome to my story "Atlanta United - A MLS Story"

    This story will follow the journey of Atlanta United, A newly formed franchise in the MLS.

    Atlanta United are a brand new club and it gives me the opportunity to build a club up from the foundations up. My aim is to build Atlanta firstly into a powerhouse within the league, then moving on to try and conquer the continent before aiming to build them a reputation as one the best clubs in the world.

    Before we get started i feel a bit of background into the club/league is best to give you a better idea of the challenge ahead.


    Atlanta United were formed in 2014 and has been granted permission by the MLS (Major League Soccer) to join the league from the 2017 season.
    The club is situated in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States its nearest club to it is Orlando City.
    The move is seen as ideal by the league as its the largest city in the country to date without a franchise.

    The club is owned by a man called Arthur Blank. He owns the the American Football team - Atlanta Falcons as well as the the home supplies company - The Home Depot ltd.
    He has a personal wealth of over $3 Billion Dollars.

    The history behind its colours as well as its badge was largely down to its supporters. The team's name, logo and colours were unveiled on July 7, 2015. The logo features a circle reminiscent of the city's seal and Olympic heritage with a bold "A" at the centre of the circle. Behind the "A" are five black and red stripes representing the five pillars of the club: unity, determination, community, excellence and innovation.The team's official colours are black (a symbol of strength and power), victory red (representing pride and passion), and gold (epitomising a commitment to excellence)


    To start their inaugural season in the MLS. Atlanta United will play their home games at the Bobby Dodd Stadium.

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-bobby-dodd.jpg

    This will be until construction is complete on the Mercedes Benz Stadium which is due for completion halfway through the season.

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-new_atlanta_stadium_mls_configuration.jpg

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-mb-stadium-northside.jpg

    The stadium holds a capacity of 72,000 for the N.F.L. Games (Atlanta Falcons) but will be scaled down to 32,000 for Atlanta United games.


    As a newly formed team you can imagine that numbers are a bit thin on the ground. Upon registering the club for the league, the club signed 7 players. The only notable ones are Chris McCann and Kenwyne Jones. There are several things you need to know about possible incoming players before i continue.


    Within Major League Soccer there a number of complex rules and regulations regarding squad registration, salary cap and the amount of foreign players i am allowed to have in my squad.

    The Cap

    The first and foremost complexity is all based around the Salary Cap. The cap and the rules that follow it make the league what it is. There are no teams with exponential riches, and everyone is competitive. I will never have an "easy match", like I may find in European leagues against newly promoted organisations. It also means I must be clean and efficient with your trades and signings.
    The cap is very simple - I have X amount of dollars per year (usually around 3.1 million) to be spent on payroll. Understand that all rules are complimentary to the cap; once this concept "clicks", it all becomes easy. The cap is love, the cap is life.
    Breaking it down, I can have a maximum of 28 players registered. These do not include players on loan, players on season ending injuries, and a few other situations that aren't worth mentioning. In February of every year, I must register my 28 man squad. Any players not registered are immediately waived. This is a good thing, because I can offload anyone under performing after the pre-season without paying a fee. An incredible tool when used correctly.
    Three Designated Players are allowed. These players make over $388,000 per year. One of them must be "young", meaning under 23 - these guys also cost less cap money. Any money over $388,000 is not counted towards the cap
    Eight Internationals are allowed; meaning those who do not hold national citizenship.
    Ten Off Budget Players are allowed. This is where things get a little trickier. Players who are Home-Grown can be considered off-budget, as well as players under Generation Adidas contracts (a training investment organisation, these are rare and come through the super draft). Additionally, players on Senior Minimum Salary ($49,000/y) contracts can be considered. Finally Reserve players ($36,500/y), whom I may have six of, are also candidates. Again, only ten are allowed total, and they do not contribute to the cap.
    Speaking of reserve players, know this: I can still make as many players as you'd like available for reserve matches, and reserve players can participate unhindered in senior matches. The registration ONLY refers to the contract type.


    There are several pieces of silverware to chase, and all of them are a little different. Let's start with the priority: the domestic league.
    First, understand that the league is split into two conferences: Western and Eastern. The conference a team is located in will determine how many times it plays other teams in the same conference. Traditionally, the West is sturdier collection of clubs. (Atlanta United are in the Eastern )
    The annual race for the league is known as the Supporter's Shield. This trophy is awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season. Simple. It also provides allocation money, a spot in the NACL (North American Champions League), and really pleases the supporters.
    The second league competition is the MLS Cup. Consider this more important but set out to win to the Shield. This is a playoff competition amongst the best teams by points in each conference. If I aim to win the Supporter's Shield, I will get a place - so no need to do anything special here. The one point I will make, is that the board is going to consider this very important. It also means that players that dread big matches are now worth slightly less to me.
    The domestic cup is known as the US Open Cup. Similar to the FA Cup all teams in the United States can compete, including non-playable USL/NASL regional teams as well as U-23 and other academy squads. The rewards are merely allocation funds, and a spot in the Champions League should i win.
    Internationally, strong MLS sides will qualify for the North American Champions League. There is one reason why i should care about this competition: it provides access to the Club World Cup.


    Let's switch gears a moment to talk about the Youth in MLS. Outside of my Senior team and my shell of a reserve team, I have a Youth Academy. This is where my intake feeds every year. Note: i cannot control this team in any way, other than to sign players, to whom i have unlimited rights. My youths will leave me empty handed at 18 years of age if i have not signed them. Players signed from the academy makes them home-grown, which is a big benefit when the commissioner comes in February for the yearly shakedown.
    The academy is only one source of youth, however. The other comes in the form of the SuperDraft. Every year, the top collegiate players are scouted by all teams, who have an opportunity to sign them. This effectively means that not only do i get my yearly intake, I get a national intake that i may select from. This is another factor for why the MLS is truly a league about developing national talent, and i can't rely on prospects from overseas.
    The draft itself is very simple - teams are assigned a number (#1-20) and then get to select one player when their number is reached. There are two rounds to the SuperDraft, meaning i get two selections. Higher picks are very valuable, of course, as all draft picks can be traded - meaning i can buy another teams first or second round selection as part of a trade. Players not selected are available for the Supplemental Draft, to which there are more rounds and picks are obviously much less valuable.
    There are a few other drafts, one of which is the Waiver Draft which occurs in December and March. Waived players can be selected by MLS teams. The Re-Entry Draft allows players who have left the team allocation process to be selected by a new team. These are both less important, but occasionally a team will waive a players because they can't afford them in the current cap.. A quick note - players who are drafted on waivers carry their current contract. So, you can't renegotiate with them immediately if they were being overpaid, but neither can anyone else.
    The final form of draft is the Expansion Draft. Simply put, both Atlanta United as well as the other newly formed team Minnesota United get to pick five players from other teams at the end of the 2016 season. Every team already in the MLS gets to protect eleven of their 28 man squad. whilst the other seventeen go in to a draft pool. Between the two clubs ten players will be drafted. The tricky part is only one player per club can be drafted so if Minnesota picked a player from Toronto Fc, all Toronto players will be removed from the draft.

    So i hope that has given you a insight into the wonderful world i am about to join, i will now holiday until the 11th December 2016 when the new pre-season begins....

    Last edited by deszeppelin; 11/02/2017 at 12:22 PM.
    wkdsoul likes this.

  2. First Impressions, and plans going forward

    December 11th 2016

    December 11th 2016 will always be a special day to me. The day i became the first ever Atlanta United manager.

    The club from the outset of its inception wanted a English man at the helm, but they also wanted a guy who could could grow with the club.

    I had enjoyed a mediocre career as player. I had played as a striker until at the age of 24 my playing career was cut short due to a career ending injury to my back. My playing career finished as follows.

    2004-2005 Aston Villa Trainee 0 Apps 0 Goals
    2005-2007 York City (Free Transfer) 100 Apps 44 Goals
    2007-2008 Gillingham (£300,000) 51 Apps 19 Goals
    2008-2009 Charlton Athletic (£500,000) 16 Apps 3 Goals
    2009-2010 Notts County (Season Loan) 35 Apps 12 Goals
    2010 -2014 Tampa Bay Rowdies (Free Transfer) 112 Apps 55 Goals
    Retired Due to Injury

    Career Apps 314
    Career Goals 133

    Over the next few years i had gained my coaching badges and had remained friends with a lot of the Tampa bay team, one of those players introduced me to a man i would later know at Athur Blank, the future owner of Atlanta United.

    When i Joined the club on what was a initially a 2 year deal i quickly realised the size of my job. The board had already signed seven players several who i wasn't keen on and on top of that they had trusted me to fill the backroom staff vacancies up as there was only me when i started.

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-training-ground-4.jpg

    As well as this i had the waiver draft the next day i knew i had to get to work.

    Firstly i sat down in my office at the training ground and came up with a outline of how my vision would be.

    I wanted my squad to be mainly consistent of Americans under 30 if i could help it. Along with that Canadian, Mexican and Caribbean players with a small English sprinkling and in addition maybe one or two south american flair players.
    I knew that by default i had
    - three designated player slots
    - eight international slots

    2 of my DP Slots had already been allocated to Kenwyne Jones and a Paraguayan who seemed average at best and completely unknown to me.

    My tactic for the upcoming drafts was to find players:

    - American Nationality (either dual or full)
    - Can fill two or more positions
    - Had no injury record

    I felt that i needed to get numbers in and with no reference of a squad to compare against i would have to go with my gut.

    I also needed to get a backroom sorted i felt that i needed International experience and if possible Ex USA players to help galvanise the dressing room.

    December 12th 2016

    The second day of my job was a important one, it was the first draft that Atlanta would ever take part in. It was the waiver draft which consisted of 45 players. I already knew i had two picks in the draft but i was 22nd and 44th. Looking down the board i saw several players that intrigued me. These lads had been let go by there clubs or couldn't negotiate a new deal, so it was my chance two snap up two players that would fill up my roster.
    Whoever i picked would represent my first two signings as manager.

    With my first pick i drafted:

    Dan Kennedy

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-dan-kennedy_-overview-profile.png

    Despite being aged 34 i felt that Dan Kennedy would be a great back up goalkeeper. He had never been capped by The USA national team and so i felt if i did get a goalkeeper in who was playing for his country Kennedy could step in and prove a able deputy. (MLS fixtures go ahead during International games)

    Strengths: Handling and Reflexes
    Weaknesses: Agility and First Touch

    The second player i drafted was:

    Jimmy Ockford

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-jimmy-ockford_-overview-profile.png

    Ockford a 24 year old centre back was a good choice due to him fitting all three of my credentials.
    He will be good guide to see how my defence shapes up.

    Strengths: Determination and Tackling
    Weaknesses: Anticipation and Passing

    The next stop was the all important Expansion Draft...

  3. Nice, i always remake the US to take out the 'wierdness' in most seasons and add all the NFL/NHL/MLB/NBA franchises. Look forward to reading a prop use of the draft/combine etc.

    Good Luck

  4. 13th December 2016

    The day had come for the expansion draft. The expansion draft is for the newly formed teams to help them in joining the league as well as keeping the league a even playing field.

    Both Minnesota United as well ourselves would take it in turns to select five players from the 201 that had been left unprotected by their respective teams. There were some good players in here but it wasn't that simple whoever i picked i would automatically take over their contract, as a result of this i had to be careful in not picking a player with massive wages towards the salary cap.

    I had to choose wisely with the five selections i had. If i found a good midfielder from lets say Seattle then that locked out the rest of their squad and i may have needed another more vital player in a different part of the pitch. I knew for certain that whoever i picked had to start for me as this was the best opportunity i had to claim good players with no negotiations.

    You can imagine for arguments sake Man city protecting their best eleven players but the rest of the squad would be up for draft. A team like Burnley for example ending up with a "Iheancho" or a "Delph" perhaps would improve their team and the player had no say, it was decision time and i had the advantage of picking first...

    The first pick that i made was:

    Daniel Steres

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-daniel-steres_-overview-profile.png

    Aged 26 good solid centre back and possible captain or vice captain felt he had the right attributes in defending and i would hope he could form a good partnership with whoever was along side him.

    Next and second from the draft was:

    Andre Blake

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-andre-blake_-overview-profile.png

    Athletic goalkeeper and undoubtedly number one. Jamaica's main goalkeeper and hopefully a solid base from the back. expecting good things from this guy and hopefully doesn't miss too much the season due to international call ups.

    The third pick i chose was:

    Kevin Alston

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-kevin-alston_-overview-profile.png

    Solid full back who can play on either flank, will join the club with a bundle of experience. Surprised that he has never been capped by his country but that will benefit me in meaning no international call ups. Snip at only 1.5k a week

    it was then time for my fourth pick and after three defensive picks i thought i needed to pick up a striker to help out Kenwyne Jones. I chose:

    Patrick Mullins

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-patrick-mullins_-overview-profile.png

    Energetic striker who hasn't really got firing in terms of goal scoring leads the line well though and has a knack of bringing other players into play. I'm hoping he can link up well and even start been more prolific.

    I had one pick left and despite needing a midfielder i elected to pick a centre back who could play all across the back line, i chose:

    Jermaine Taylor

    Atlanta United - A MLS Story-jermaine-taylor_-overview-profile.png

    Strong and athletic, Taylor looks a great asset to the club. Capped by Jamaica i hope his relationship with Andre Blake will get the best out the pair of them. Another contender for the captaincy.

    So there it was... my 5 picks were done and i was on to yet another draft the re-entry draft.

    To come next.

    Sam91 likes this.

  5. Looking forward to this! Done a NYCFC save a few FM's ago and loved it!

  6. Quote Originally Posted by wkdsoul View Post
    Nice, i always remake the US to take out the 'wierdness' in most seasons and add all the NFL/NHL/MLB/NBA franchises. Look forward to reading a prop use of the draft/combine etc.

    Good Luck

    Cheers its gonna be hard work

  7. 16th December 2016

    It was time for the re-entry draft, this was the players who were transfer listed by MLS Clubs and wanted rid for one reason or another. The thirty players were of a decent standard and it was up to me boost the numbers in the squad. I had three picks in total but i wasn't going to choose three just because i had to.

    My first pick was:

    NO ONE!

    After looking through the players i felt that the best players would be reserve players or bench players, if possible i wanted a squad largely of the same quality so they would all get game time. I knew that games com thick and fast in the MLS and felt my acquisition efforts would be suited best somewhere else.

    December 26th 2016

    Today would be the day where every thing felt real. The MLS fixture list was out and our inaugural game would be at home to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday March 4th.

    As well as this the season's salary cap regulations were out. I could name a 28 man squad with a maximum salary per week of 57,000 dollars. basic maths told me that if i averaged around 2,000 dollars would see me in good stead.

    I was also given allocation money by the league (Transfer Budget) which was $1.1. Million

    Before i did anything else though i needed to sort out my backroom staff...

    TheBattman likes this.

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