Atlanta United working to secure green card for Gonzalez Pirez

1:48 p.m Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 Homepage
ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
March 5, 2017, Atlanta: Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez soars to the ball over a N.Y. Red Bulls player during the second half on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said on Thursday that the team is working to secure a U.S. green card for him.

Earlier this week, the team announced that Hector Villalba, who like Gonzalez Pirez is from Argentina, had received his U.S. green card.

Josef Martinez, a native of Venezuela, declined to say if the team was working to secure a green card for him. His answer: “Ask Darren (Eales),” referring to the Atlanta United’s president.

A green card represents a immigration status of a person to be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. The green cards are important because they change the classification of the player within MLS from International to Domestic.

Each MLS team starts with eight International spots on their rosters. Those spots can be traded. Atlanta United’s roster currently has more players who would be considered International than it has spots. However, Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra on Monday said the team was working to secure green cards for several players. He declined to say for who.

MLS teams don’t have to be compliant with the league’s roster rules until March 1.

Among the other players occupying international slots are Julian Gressel (Germany), Romario Williams (Jamaica), Miguel Almiron (Paraguay) and Carlos Carmona (Chile).

The team drafted three international players: Jon Gallagher (Ireland), Oliver Shannon (England) and Gordon Wild (Germany), in addition to acquiring Ezequiel Barco (Argentina), Franco Escobar (Argentina) and Jose Hernandez (Venezuela).