MLS Toronto FC Crew Soccer

Atlanta United, the MLS expansion team headquartered in Marietta, sent expansion draft selection Clint Irwin back to Toronto for east Cobb native Mark Bloom, left. 

Just days after he played for Toronto FC in the MLS Cup against Seattle, goalkeeper Clint Irwin was taken by Atlanta United FC in the Major League Soccer expansion draft.

By the afternoon he was traded back to Toronto.

Atlanta took two goalkeepers and three defenders in Tuesday’s expansion draft before dealing two of the newly acquired players — including Irwin — later in the afternoon. It is not uncommon for expansion teams to select players with the intention of moving them.

Atlanta dealt Irwin back to Toronto in exchange for defender Mark Bloom, a former Lassiter High School standout, and general allocation money.

The 29-year-old Bloom played 39 games for Toronto over the last four seasons.

“Our hope was to not lose anyone in the expansion draft. No matter how you work your protected list, due to the depth of our roster we knew it was a possibility and we had to prepare accordingly,” Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement released by the club. “We are pleased to have Clint back and wish Mark and his family all the best in his home town of Atlanta and thank him for his four years of contributions to the club.”

It was an overall busy day in MLS. The Sounders celebrated their first MLS Cup title with a parade through downtown Seattle. The Sounders defeated Toronto 5-4 in a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw last Saturday in Canada.

The LA Galaxy introduced Curt Onalfo as the team’s new head coach after Bruce Arena left to become the coach of the U.S. men’s national team.

The league’s free agency period also opened.

Atlanta selected defender Donny Toia of the Montreal Impact with the first-overall pick in the five-round expansion draft. Toia was traded later in the day to Orlando City in exchange for the eighth-overall pick in next year’s SuperDraft.

Montreal captain Patrice Bernier went to Twitter to thank Toia, a 24-year old who was the starting left back for the Impact last season.

“Thank you Donny Toia for great service and helping team get back on its feet since 2015. All the best and you will be missed,” Bernier wrote.

Minnesota United FC, the league’s other team that will begin play next season, selected right back Chris Duvall of the New York Red Bulls with its first selection. Duvall, 25, had been with the Red Bulls since 2014, when he was the 22nd pick in the MLS SuperDraft out of Wake Forest.

Within hours, Minnesota traded Duvall to the Impact for winger Johan Venegas.

Atlanta also drafted veteran defender Zach Lloyd of FC Dallas, defender Mikey Ambrose from Orlando and Alec Kann of Sporting Kansas City.

Atlanta was widely rumored to be interested in U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan, currently with Middlesbrough of the Premier League.

Following Duvall, Minnesota took midfielder Collen Warner from the Houston Dynamo, midfielder Mohammed Saeid of the Columbus Crew, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella of Real Salt Lake and forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen of the New England Revolution.

“If we keep all five, we’d be delighted in what we got. We think they can all contribute,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said immediately following the draft.

For the expansion draft, each existing MLS team was able to protect 11 players, including Designated Players with no-trade clauses. Homegrown Players and Generation Adidas players were also exempt.

Atlanta looked to have a significant jump on building its roster, with head coach Tata Martino signing some promising young players including Miguel Almiron of Paraguay, a 22-year-old attacking midfielder who has been with Lanus of Argentina’s top division since 2015.

In another trade Tuesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired veteran right back Sheanon Williams from Houston in exchange for general allocation money.


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