Last Friday, manager Frank de Boer revealed Williams was on the move, but he did not disclose the Jamaica international’s destination.
Williams, 24, last appeared for Atlanta in the 3-1 extra-time win over the Charleston Battery in the U.S. Open Cup fourth round on June 13. With Josef Martínez away on international duty, Williams started the game and scored an equalizing goal in the 78th minute.
In recent weeks, Brandon Vazquez emerged as the preferred backup to Martínez. Vazquez entered as a sub against the Battery and scored two goals in extra time. He started the round-of-16 game against Columbus and picked up another brace in a 3-2 win. Vazquez made his first MLS start at Toronto. He played well and found a few good chances in front of goal, but he did not score. He started again in Atlanta’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
On Monday, de Boer said Vazquez’s recent play made trading Williams a possibility.
“You don’t throw your old shoes away when you don’t have new ones,” de Boer told reporters, using a Dutch idiom.
“He proved himself so that we have the confidence that, hey, Brandon Vazquez is there. He can manage himself. And also you have to look in his head, if he’s mentally stable, and we think he is. Hopefully he stays fit until the end of the season so he can be important as he did in the last couple of games for us.”
Atlanta acquired Williams from Montreal in 2017 and sent him on loan to Charleston. Williams appeared in 19 MLS games for Atlanta over the past season and a half and scored one goal. He added two goals in Open Cup play for the Five Stripes.
“Always sad to see a teammate go,” captain Michael Parkhurst said Friday. “Roma’s been with us a while. He’s a great guy. Everybody in the locker room loves Roma. He fits in really well. He’s a hard worker and just a really humble, good person off the field. We’re going to miss him.
“But hopefully it’s a great opportunity for him that he gets more playing time there and does well, because we want him to succeed.”
The trade opens a senior roster spot for Atlanta. That spot might not be vacant for long. The team is in contract negotiations with United States international midfielder Emerson Hyndman, according to Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The MLS secondary transfer window opens July 9.