The Sports Inquirer attended the pre-game presser of Charlotte Hornets’ head coach Steve Clifford before his team’s road contest against the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 17.
The Sports Inquirer attended the pregame presser of Atlanta Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer before his team’s home contest against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 17.
Topics included the health of Malcolm Delaney and the perimeter defense of the Hawks.
Release from Atlanta United:
Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC conducted the 2016 MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 14. Following the MLS expansion draft, the trade window opened which led to Atlanta United acquiring four players, a 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick and General Allocation Money.
The Expansion Draft was a five-round draft in which both expansion franchises, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, selected five players from existing MLS teams to add to their own rosters. As a result of the 2016 Expansion Priority Draft, Atlanta United held the first pick of the draft.
Atlanta selected, in order, defender Donny Toia from Montreal Impact, defender Zach Loyd from FC Dallas, goalkeeper Clint Irwin from Toronto FC, defender Mikey Ambrose from Orlando City SC and goalkeeper Alec Kann from Sporting Kansas City.
Following the draft, Atlanta dealt two of its picks in a pair of trades. Atlanta acquired Orlando City SC’s natural first round pick, No. 8 overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft in exchange for Toia. Clint Irwin was traded back to Toronto FC in exchange for defender Mark Bloom and General Allocation Money.
Loyd, 29, is out of contract and is eligible for Re-Entry Draft. He began his career in MLS when Dallas selected him No. 5 overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He spent seven years with FC Dallas, where he has been a mainstay on the club’s backline, appearing in 180 games. Known as a durable defender who can be deployed in multiple positions, Loyd brings a wealth of MLS experience, as he is second all-time in minutes played and games started for FC Dallas. Loyd has also appeared for the United States Men’s National Team with three caps. His debut was a start in a friendly against Chile on Jan. 22, 2010. Loyd also played in consecutive friendlies in 2012 against Venezuela (Jan. 22) and Panama (Jan. 26).
Bloom, a 29-year-old Marietta, Ga. native, has 39 career MLS appearances with 37 starts. He originally joined Toronto on loan from former NASL team Atlanta Silverbacks. After starting in six games on loan in 2013 with Toronto, Bloom was signed on a permanent transfer ahead of the 2014 season where he started a career-high 26 matches. After spending most of 2016 on loan with USL team Toronto FC II, Bloom made seven appearances with the senior squad and recorded two assists. He was included on the roster for the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs and played in two matches.
Mikey Ambrose spent the 2016 season with Orlando City where he appeared in five games. A 23-year-old defender, Ambrose began his professional career in 2015 with the Austin Aztex of USL. Prior to that, he played for the University of Maryland and is a product of the FC Dallas Development Academy. Ambrose has also represented the US Men’s National Team at the U17, U18 and U20 levels.
Alec Kann comes from Sporting Kansas City and has been in MLS since 2013. Kann, 26, earned seven starts in 2016 and registered two shutouts for SKC. He made his CONCACAF Champions League debut Oct. 20, 2016 against Central FC in a 3-1 victory. He signed with Chicago Fire in 2013 and made his MLS debut in 2015. The Decatur, Ga. native played collegiately at Furman University and compiled a 37-16-10 record, 18 shutouts and a 1.00 goals against average in 65 starts during his collegiate career.