Kings of the South(east)
The headline of the past month has certainly been the Atlanta United Academy U-17 and U-19 squads, which each claimed their second straight USSDA Southeast Division titles this month. The U-19’s secured a 3-3 draw against NCFC and a 3-1 win over the North Carolina Fusion to continue their unbeaten season, with Chad Letts scoring in both games as they locked down their spot at the National Championships. The U-17’s also clinched their division title with a late equalizing goal against the Fusion, with young players stepping up in a big way in the absence of several key players out with injuries or competing at higher age groups.
Representing your country is one of soccer’s greatest honors, and there’s been plenty of that among the future of Atlanta United over the past month. Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin got expected call-ups to the U-20 squad, as both Georgia natives continue their climb up the ranks in the U.S. Soccer ranks. A level below, three Atlanta United prospects –– goalkeeper Justin Garces and defenders Charlie Asensio and Rayshaun Mcgann –– made up the backbone of the U.S. U-19 back line that faced several European teams in the 2018 Slovakia Cup. Two of Atlanta United’s most promising U-17 players, Homegrown defender George Bello and USL signing Diego Lopez travelled to Spain for a series of friendlies against Norway and India. Finally, defender Kobey Stoup was called up for the U-16 squad for the Torneo dell Nazioni in Italy, facing off against Italy, Libya and Croatia in the Group Stages. With eight international call-ups in just a month, the Academy is clearly turning heads at the international level.
Academy Sets Up for ATL UTD 2
ATL UTD 2, the club’s USL team that launched this season, was designed to be the bridge from the Academy to the professional ranks, and it is already paying off in a big way just a few months in. Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, George Bello, Lagos Kunga and Laurent Kissiedou have all carved out regular roles at the professional level. Meanwhile, Academy standouts Kendall Edwards, Jackson Conway, Will Crain and Alessandro Castro have all made their debut at the USL level over the past month. Carleton notched his first USL goal, sinking a stoppage-time penalty to equalize against reigning USL champs Louisville City, while Laurent Kissiedou’s long-range strike is currently up for USL Goal of the Week. Make sure to cast your vote here.
While the main priority is developing players for the future, the results now are looking pretty good for the Atlanta United Academy. First an undefeated weekend against the Jacksonville Armada –– with the U-15’s drawing 1-1 and the U-17’s winning 3-0 –– followed by an unbeaten four-win day across the age groups against Charlotte Soccer Ademy, headlined by an 11-0 win at the U-13 level. Finally, a seven-match unbeaten day over local powerhouse Concorde Fire, with the U-12 team coming out 7-0 winners.
Last but certainly not least, two of the Academy’s youngest squads had two of the most eye-popping goals of the early season. First came U-13 Pablo Villanueva with an incredible strike from distance, followed by his teammate Luke Brennan, who hit a stunning overhead kick just days later.