Atlanta United sign goalkeeper Josh Cohen on free transfer from Maccabi Haifa

Atlanta United have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Josh Cohen on a free transfer from Israeli side Maccabi Haifa through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026.

Cohen becomes Atlanta’s first signing of the offseason, and a rather important one at that. Club legend and captain Brad Guzan’s play has slowed down since his Achilles injury in the 2022 season and although he’s under contract through 2024, Cohen has a chance to make the starting spot his own in between the sticks.

Cohen has been without a club since the conclusion of Maccabi Haifa’s season in June. A report from The Athletic back in September explained that one of Cohen’s representatives claimed that Atlanta violated MLS rules regarding the discovery rights for the 31-year-old. In short, the claim stated that the Five Stripes offered him a contract that was “well below market value.”

However, nothing came of the claims and the 2018 MLS Cup champions now have a new goalkeeper in their ranks.

“Josh is someone with a unique career path who has backed himself at every step of his journey,” Atlanta vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a release.

“He has shown the ability to compete at the highest level in the UEFA Europa League and Champions League. We are pleased to welcome Josh to the club and look forward to him coming in and competing within our goalkeeping group.”

With Maccabi Haifa, Cohen made over 160 appearances across all competitions, that also includes experience in the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and the Conference League. Before making the move to the Israeli Premier League, Cohen made 91 appearances in the United Soccer League Championship in the United States with Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising and Sacramento Republic FC from 2016-2019.

The veteran shot-stopper helped Maccabi Haifa to three straight Israeli Premier League titles in 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23, while also capturing the Israel Toto Cup in 2021/22 as well as the Israel Super Cup in 2021. In the 2020/21 campaign, Cohen was named the Israeli Footballer of the Year after he conceded just 12 goals while keeping 13 clean sheets in 22 league appearances.

Atlanta’s defense cost them dearly in the 2023 campaign despite scoring the second-most goals scored in the league (66). The Five Stripes’ 53 goals conceded across 34 regular season games was the sixth-most in MLS, one of the key reasons that the team were unable to truly contend for any trophies this past term.

With defender Miles Robinson out of contract, Atlanta will look to bolster their center-back department to improve the defense alongside the addition of Cohen ahead of the 2024 season.

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