Atlanta United’s back line enjoyed an impressive run in their first year, progressing quickly from a group of strangers to a cohesive force. Now with a season under their belt and an eye on 2018, Atlanta is excited to welcome another strong addition to the defense in a young, promising talent from Argentina: Franco Escobar.
Born in Rosario and now 22 years old, Escobar has spent the entirety of his career at his hometown club of Newell’s Old Boys in the Argentine Primera Division. After making his professional debut for the side in 2015, the Argentine has recorded 34 total career appearances splitting time between right back and center back. Newell’s Old Boys should ring a bell as it is one of Atlanta head coach Gerardo Martino’s former clubs and really where Martino, or “Tata”, put his name on the map. Not only was the Rosario club the source of the world-class pedigree of his new head coach, but they also sported the red and black – the colors of his new club. Perhaps a perfect fit.
Escobar's versatility allows him to play at fullback or center back, equally adept anywhere on the back line. The youngster thrives on his tenacity, physicality, strong tackling and ability to shut down the opponent in one-on-one situations. Not only does he boast a powerful defensive presence, but he also offers a lot when his team is in possession. His technical skill and composure on the ball allow his side to run play through him with confidence, a key trait for a defender in Martino’s possession-oriented system.
Argentine Success in MLS
The 22-year-old defender joins Major League Soccer from the Argentine Primera Division, a league considered by many to be the most competitive in all of South America. Recent history has shown that players from Argentina’s top league adapt well to MLS as seen through Portland’s Diego Valeri, Seattle’s Nico Lodeiro, and Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti among others. Even if you’re not familiar with the rest of the league, Atlanta fans will certainly recognize the names of Miguel Almirón, Leandro González Pirez, Yamil Asad and Tito Villalba who all joined the expansion side in 2017 from Argentine clubs – four players that played crucial roles in Atlanta United’s record-breaking inaugural season.
Joining a Force
Escobar reinforces an Atlanta United back line who ranked fourth in the league in goals allowed (40) and second in goal differential (+30) through the 2017 regular season. With the club’s newest addition bringing power, skill and brains, Five Stripes fans can expect an even more solidified unit on the field in 2018.
It may be offseason, but remember, Five Stripes don’t stop.