Atlanta United Academy players make college commitments 


ATLANTA – Atlanta United’s Academy held its 2023 National Signing Day ceremony at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Thursday with 17 Academy players signing a National Letter of Intent to begin their collegiate careers this upcoming Fall.

In total, 15 of the 17 players committed to Division I programs, bringing the total number of Academy graduates to move on to the D1 level to 70 players. The total number of scholarship dollars awarded this year is $2.2 million.

In addition, four high school seniors from this class have already gone on to sign professional contracts with Atlanta United and Atlanta United 2. Defender Caleb Wiley, who is participating in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup, midfielders Luke Brennan, Alan Carleton and Jonantan Villal all progressed through the Academy to become professional players.

“On behalf of our coaches and entire staff here in the Academy program, we are proud of each of our academy graduates,” Atlanta United Academy Director Matt Lawrey said. “This group of graduates features players who have been with us for several years as well as some who joined us more recently. Our staff has done an outstanding job of identifying these talented players throughout our region and helping them grow both on and off the pitch. I want to thank the coaches from the numerous collegiate programs who are giving our Academy players the opportunity to take the next step in their careers. We look forward to following each of these players to see how their careers progress in the coming years.”

Atlanta United’s current roster features two players who have signed Homegrown deals after playing in college and earning a college degree. Midfielder Machop Chol, who recently scored his first career MLS goal, was a standout at Wake Forest University before returning to play for Atlanta United, while Justin Garces had an outstanding collegiate career at UCLA before signing his Homegrown deal with the club.

The full list of 2023 Atlanta United Academy graduates is as follows:


Vicente Villazon: Joined the Academy in 2022; signed with Winthrop University


Evan Alvarez: Joined the Academy from MOBA in 2022; signed with Coastal Carolina University

Andrew De Gannes: Previously played for Queens Park FC before joining Academy in 2021, has seen playing time with ATL UTD 2; signed with Oregon State University

Joel Gonzalez: Joined Academy in 2017 from Concorde Fire; signed with University of Kentucky

Remi Okunlola: Has played in the Academy since 2017; signed with Clemson University

AJ Pama: Has been with the Academy since 2019 after joining from IMG Academy; signed with Georgia Southern University

Caleb Wiley: Joined Academy on inaugural U-12 team in 2016; signed as a Homegrown player on Jan.18, 2022


Luke Brennan: Joined the Academy in 2018, signed first professional deal with ATL UTD 2 on March 9, 2023 and will become a Homegrown player effective Jan. 1, 2024

Mathieu Brick: Joined the Academy in 2018, has made appearances with ATL UTD 2 since the 2021 season; signed with Clemson University

Alan Carleton: Joined the Academy in 2016 and was a member of the first-ever Atlanta United Academy U-12 team to take the field; signed first professional deal with ATL UTD 2 on March 15, 2023

Trace Higham: Joined the Atlanta United Academy in 2022; signed with Oglethorpe University

Italo Jenkins: Joined at the U14 level in 2019 from Inter Atlanta, joining teammate Andrew de Gannes at collegiate level; signed with Oregon State University

Brendan Lambe: Came to Academy from NCFC in 2019, has made 26 professional appearances for ATL UTD 2 in his career; signed with University of Virginia

Noah Louzan: Came to Academy in 2022 from NASA; signed with Davidson College

Gabe Nickerson: Joined the Atlanta United Academy in 2022; signed with University of South Carolina

Joao Ramos: Became a member of the Academy in 2021 from Empire United; signed with University of Michigan

Jorge Sandoval: Joined the Academy from KSA in the 2022 season; signed with University of North Georgia

Porter “Bains” Smith: Joined Academy in 2016 as the youngest kid on the first U12 team from Concorde Fire; signed with University of Kentucky

Jonantan Villal: A member of the inaugural U-12 Academy team in 2016; signed his first professional deal on Jan. 7, 2022 with ATL UTD 2.

Micah Wharton: Has been with the Academy since 2019 coming from Darlington Academy; signed with Lipscomb University

Ty Wilson: Joined the Academy at the U13 level in 2017 from YMCA Strikers, will join teammate AJ Pama at next level; signed with Georgia Southern University