Who exactly is JJ Williams? Well, the newest member of the Five Stripes is a 6’4”, 200-lb striker hailing from Montgomery, AL — just a couple hours east of Atlanta by car — that has seen most of his professional action during his still very young career with USL Championship side Birmingham Legion.
The need for reinforcements up front for the Atlanta United attack came from the injury news on superstar Josef Martinez earlier this week. Martinez tore his right ACL during the season-opening victory over Nashville SC this past Saturday, and obviously leaves very big shoes to fill.
Back to Williams, as he became the first addition in the wake of the Martinez injury, signing a deal to join United on Thursday afternoon. Williams was set to spend 2020 with Birmingham Legion, a squad he scored seven goals in 21 appearances with last year.
Williams was with Birmingham last season on loan from his MLS club Columbus Crew. The Crew took the now 22-year-old with the 18th overall pick of the 2019 SuperDraft following a stellar collegiate career at Kentucky, but surprisingly waived him last month.
In his NCAA days, Williams netted 24 goals and recorded 15 assists across 57 games with the Wildcats. After scoring a school-record 18 goals to go with eight assists as a junior in 2018, Williams was named First Team All-America.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 11, 2019
Obviously, Williams is almost certainly not going to single-handedly fill the void left by Martinez. Not many out there could. However, he’s a big, talented, rocket-legged striker that’s largely an unknown quantity at this level with only seven MLS matches on his ledger.
Is a breakout on the horizon for Williams? Possibly. Time will tell. If he makes a quick impression on Coach Frank de Boer, Williams should get every opportunity to make a statement.
It seems doubtful that Williams will be in action this Saturday for the home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium versus FC Cincinnati, but Five Stripe fans will surely see him soon. Saturday’s match is set for 7:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on Fox Sports South.