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Atlanta United announces roster moves, works on new Parkhurst deal

Michael Parkhurst celebrates in Atlanta United's locker room after winning the MLS Cup on Dec. 8, 2018 with a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers in Atlanta. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

ATLANTA — A day after winning the MLS Cup, Atlanta United FC announced its year-end roster moves, declining and exercising options on the contracts of several players.

The only regular Atlanta United starter to have his option declined was captain and veteran defender Michael Parkhurst. However, the club said in a statement that they are negotiating on a new contract with the 34-year-old.

Atlanta also declined options for goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt, defender Sal Zizzo and midfielder Oliver Shannon and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu.

According figures released by the MLS Players Association earlier this year, Parkhurst earned a salary of $340,008 with Atlanta United during the 2018 season. Parkhurst came to Atlanta in December, 2016 in a trade with Columbus Crew SC. He was an All-Star in 2017 and 2018.

“Michael was someone that, quite early on, (technical director Carlos Bocanegra) identified as a type of person that we wanted in the locker room, to be able to build a team around,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said Saturday night after the MLS Cup. “When he was available, he was someone who we were straight away keen to get because I think with him, Jeff Larentowicz and Brad Guzan, gave us that core MLS experience and American spine to the team from a chemistry perspective.”

Shannon, a 23-year-old from England, was selected by Atlanta with a second-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. The Clemson University product never saw playing time with the first team, but played well in USL with ATL UTD 2, tallying three assists, one goal, 36 interceptions and 25 clearances in 25 starts.

Zizzo, 31, played in just six games with Atlanta United before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. Mitch Hildebrandt never appeared in a game with the first team and Wheeler-Omiunu played in one match, seeing 16 minutes in a road win over Minnesota United in March.

Sticking with Atlanta United after their options were picked up by the club are goalkeeper Alec Kann; defenders Mikey Ambrose and Greg Garza; midfielders Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz and Darlington Nagbe; and forward Romario Williams.

The club also re-signed Jon Gallagher, Atlanta’s first round pick from the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. Like Shannon, he did not see the pitch for the first team, but played regularly with ATL UTD 2. Gallagher began the season as a striker, but finished it playing fullback. The versatile Irishman played in 30 USL games and notched six goals, five assists and 29 tackles.

Atlanta United already had 19 other players under contract.

The roster for the Five Stripes as of Dec. 9, 2018 is:

Goalkeepers (2): Brad Guzan, Alec Kann
Defenders (8): Mikey Ambrose, George Bello, Franco Escobar, Jon Gallagher, Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Jose Hernandez and Miles Robinson
Midfielders (10): Miguel Almirón, Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Julian Gressel, Kevin Kratz, Jeff Larentowicz, Chris McCann, Darlington Nagbe and Eric Remedi
Forwards (7): Lagos Kunga, Josef Martinez, Patrick Okonkwo, Brandon Vazquez, Tito Villalba, Gordon Wild and Romario Williams

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