In 2021, Campbell University’s men’s soccer team won its third Big South Conference tournament title within the last four years. The Fighting Camels finished atop the conference, outscoring its opponents 55-21. A large part of that success came from midfielder Tyler Young.
Young, 22, led the conference in points that season after tallying nine goals and nine assists in just 18 appearances. He ended his college career as a two-time Big South Offensive Player of the Year and two-time All-South region performer.
Young’s talent resulted in him being selected as the No. 36 overall pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United and signing with Atlanta United 2, where his championship experience aligns strongly with the team’s mentality.
“For the season, as a team, we want to accomplish a championship,” Young said. “I think we’re not really trying to sell ourselves short. We’re saying, ‘Hey, if we can get to playoffs, let’s not stop there. Let’s win a title.’”
Atlanta United 2's quest toward the playoffs started a little rough however, going 0-2-1 in its first three matches. The team is working to conquer the challenges that come with entering its first season in MLS NEXT Pro, and for Young specifically, changing to a new position on the field.
Young played in the No. 10 position growing up and throughout his time at Campbell, but he has shifted to right fullback since joining Atlanta. He has taken on the new role with open arms and is attempting to bring his offensive skills into the defense.
“When you get changed to a right back, you have to kind of change the way you play,” he said. “You have more defensive responsibility, and you have to play a little more aggressive, versus an attacking midfielder where you’re being creative, you’re starting attacks, you’re scoring goals, you’re assisting. I’m trying to implement that into my game as a right back.”
Along with him changing his own personal style of play, Young says the team has been adjusting to the new league and its rules. In Atlanta United 2’s second match of the season against New York Red Bulls, the teams immediately went to penalty kicks following a 1-1 score line at the end of regulation, forgoing ending in a draw or any periods of extra time. The Red Bulls secured the win 5-4 on kicks.
That loss showed Young one of the differences between college and MLS NEXT Pro and what the team needs to do to prevent finding themselves in that position again.
“Now that we know that’s how games could end up, I think we have to take our chances more often,” he said. “Obviously no one wants it to go to PKs every game, so when we have the opportunities to bury teams, then we have to take them.”
Despite these challenges on the pitch, Young said he has been enjoying this new phase of his life. The North Carolina native said he has liked finding new places to explore in and around Atlanta while still focusing on making the most out of his professional career debut.
Young trained with Atlanta United’s first team during preseason, giving him a taste of his goal to join them in the future.
“Playing with the first team is a lot faster,” he said. “Playing in Mercedes-Benz is a different experience as well, and I enjoyed it. I was very thankful for that experience, and I tried to make the best out of it. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance like that soon.”
Until then, Young remains grateful for the club giving him this opportunity. As Atlanta’s only pick in the draft, Young feels honored to wear the 5-Stripes and represent the city.
“For Atlanta United to take that chance on me, I think that was something special,” he said. “I think they believe in me, and they have a plan for my career. Now, I’m able to represent a great club with great history. It means a lot, and I’m willing to work hard for the 5-Stripes.”