Atlanta United’s two oldest Academy sides are putting everything they’ve learned this year to the test at the US Soccer Development Academy Summer Showcase and Playoff tis weeks. The U-16/17 age group is where Atlanta United won the national championship in just their first year of existence last season, but there’s a whole new cast of characters filling out that lineup trying to prove themselves at the top level. And with first-team call-ups and college commitments over the past year, the lineup will look a little different for national championship-winning age group that is competing in the U-18/19 tournament this year.
The U-18/19s goes into the tournament with the ninth seed while the younger age group comes in ranked fifth. A brace from Blake White and Chad Letts’ 17th goal of the season propelled them to an impressive 4-1 win over the Houston Dynamo, but the LA Galaxy and Montreal Impact remain in their way in the group stages. Their match against the LA Galaxy will be one of USSDA's feature games and will be streamed live at atlutd.com/live. Meanwhile the U-16/17s kick off group play Tuesday and will have to take on BW Gottschee Academy and Vardar as well as Real Salt Lake –– the team they beat in the semifinals last year –– in order to advance past the group stages.
Annan named coach for MLS Homegrown Game
Atlanta United Academy Director Tony Annan has earned the responsibility of leading the future of the Academy, and now MLS is recognizing him with an honor of their own. The league announced that Tony Annan will be the coach of the MLS Homegrown Team that will take on LIGA MX side Tigres UANL as part of the week of festivities surrounding the MLS All-Star Game. The match, which featured Homegrown signings Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin last season, will be played at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on July 31st and will be streamed live on Twitter. Stay tuned to the Atlanta United Academy social media accounts for news on which players will be representing Atlanta for the match.
The Atlanta United Academy’s primary goal is to create young talents for the first team, and there were two big steps of progress in that regard over the past month. In Atlanta United’s home U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery, Andrew Carleton earned a start and celebrated the occasion with his first competitive goal for the first team. The Powder Springs native found a pocket of space just outside the box and fired it home from distance past the Charleston goalkeeper:
But that wasn’t all, with Atlanta United’s second Homegrown signing, midfielder Chris Goslin, making his first appearance for the first team with a late substitute showing for the final minutes of the match. And a division below, Academy U-19 standout Justin Garces had a strong showing in his professional debut for ATL UTD 2.
Meanwhile, two Atlanta United players received one of the highest honors you can receive as a young soccer player. Kendall Edwards and Diego Lopez were both called up for their respective age groups. Lopez has become a regular for the U-17 age group, adding a tricky, creative presence to the American front line. Meanwhile, Kendall Edwards got his first call-up in a while, this time for the U-18 side, with his form for ATL UTD 2 and the Atlanta United Academy teams just impossible for the American soccer leadership to ignore. Hopefully it will be the start of a more consistent return to the U.S. Youth National Team setup, as he matures into a complete center back.