Before Atlanta United FC was officially added to the ranks of Major League Soccer teams in 2014, Atlanta was the largest major U.S. city without an MLS expansion team. The club quickly made up for lost time, beginning play in 2017 at the majestic Mercedes-Benz stadium and filling out a roster of Atlanta United FC players that included standouts from all over the globe. Here is an overview of the prominent names making Atlanta United's inaugural lineup.
Note: The lineup is subject to change. Refer to the Atlanta United roster page for the latest player information.
HT: 5' 6" WT: 148 Age: 23 (07/26/1994)
Typically one of the team's leading scorers, Villalba hails from Buenos Aires and is a right winger. He was originally chosen to join Buenos Aires-based San Lorenzo at age 10, coming up through the club's youth system. He made more than 100 first team appearances for San Lorenzo.
HT: 5' 8" WT: 154 Age: 26 (08/16/1991)
A Texan by birth, Garza left the country when he was 12 years old to pursue a pro soccer dream in Brazil. The left back with strong defensive skills returns to the U.S. to play for Atlanta after spending more than half his life abroad. He's usually near the top of the Atlanta United FC players' rankings in touches, interceptions and successful crosses. Garza was also the first defender on Atlanta's backline to ever score for the club, netting the goal against Vancouver on June 3 in AU FC's inaugural season.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
HT: 6' 1" WT: 180 Age: 25 (02/26/1992)
An experienced central defender, Gonzalez Pirez consistently plays the most minutes for Atlanta United. A native of Buenos Aires, he joined the club with more than 100 professional appearances to his name, most of them played in the Argentine top flight.
Atlanta United FC owner Arthur Blank first submitted a bid in 2008 for an Atlanta MLS expansion franchise. After several fits and starts, Blank persevered and the MLS announced the team in April 2014.
Blank is also the co-founder of Atlanta-based Home Depot and has owned the Atlanta Falcons since 2002. When the Falcons began getting approval for a new stadium in 2012, an MLS club at the same site was an appealing prospect for MLS and Blank alike. Dream became reality when the $1.4 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium opened in 2017 and Atlanta United took the field inside the 71,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium.
History of the Five Stripes Club Kit
Atlanta United FC's players sport a club kit determined by Atlanta fans, in the same red and black with a little bit of gold mixed in colors used in the Falcons first uniforms in 1966. According to the club, the five vertical stripes represent Atlanta United's five pillars of character: Unity, Excellence, Community, Determination and Innovation, while the team crest sits directly over the heart as a symbol of passion and pride. Each inaugural season jersey features a season logo behind the neck.
Gerardo "Tata" Martino brings a distinctly Argentinian background to the position of first-ever AU FC head coach. A former professional player and coach at the highest levels of both club and international soccer, Martino's 20-year coaching career includes leading the Argentina National Team back to the No. 1 FIFA World ranking in July 2015 and coaching Paraguay National Team and La Liga's FC Barcelona.
"Gerardo's teams have always been organized and have displayed a fast and fluid style that aligns with how we intend to play. He's also demonstrated a commitment to youth soccer, consistently proving his ability to enhance the progression of younger players. He's a great fit for our club and I look forward to working with him to build a successful club," " said Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra. Martino starred at Newell's Old Boys as a player, where he still holds the club record for games played.
For more information
To follow Atlanta United FC players' statistics, visit the team's website and bookmark the Statistics page. Individual players' cumulative statistics, including those from seasons they were not one of the Atlanta United FC players, can be found on the Major League Soccer website.
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