From the Gwinnett County rec leagues to the Proving Ground: Alessandro Castro's path to ATL UTD 2

One of Georgia’s finest peaches, Alessandro Castro has a diverse background. Born in McGrady, Georgia and raised in Lilburn, Georgia to Honduran parents, Castro chose to don the colors of “Los Catrachos” at the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in India a year ago.

Gaining invaluable experience from this tournament, Castro returned to ATL UTD 2 to display it on the Proving Ground. A number of home games are on the team’s calendar for the months of September and October. Castro, who grew up a mere 30 minutes away from the Coolray Field, is itching to make his home debut in front of his friends, family and fans.

We sat down with Castro to delve into the mind of the maestro and find out about his love for the sport and the importance of Gwinnett County to his success, as well as that of ATL UTD 2.

Castro says he fell in love with soccer at the age of three when his dad first introduced him to the beautiful game. However, he didn’t participate in the rigors of competitive youth soccer until age 8 where he represented his elementary school. He continued his development making his dive into club soccer at 10 years old playing for GFC, Norcross FC and later went on to represent Gwinnett Soccer Academy before joining Atlanta United’s Academy. Castro signed with ATL UTD 2 July 5, 2018 and made his professional debut May 19, 2018 against Louisville City FC.

A midfielder by trade, Castro reflects on why he settled into a midfield role at age 10. “I loved having the ball at my feet all the time,” he said. “That was really important to me, I just love having the ball at my feet.” Castro also spoke about wanting to be a play other positions but didn’t have the height that is often required of forwards or goalkeepers. He sees himself as a versatile midfielder. One who can operate as a holding or an attacking midfielder, his calm, deft touches on the ball, intelligent movement off the ball and eye for a pass complement both roles extremely well. Castro identifies the role of a winger as another position he would’ve played had he not been already rooted in the center of the park.

Castro says he looks forward to his continued development as a professional soccer player. His next move in his career is to simply “keep on getting better.” Castro looks at his rise to ATL UTD 2 with warm memories, reminiscent of the fact that he wasn’t playing or training as a professional before making the move. Castro said, “I think this (ATL UTD 2) is a place that can help me get better.”

The Soccer culture in Atlanta is something that Castro has long been following and he believes it is only getting stronger in America. “It’s getting better,” he said. “Before all you had here was football, basketball and baseball, but now soccer is getting into the picture and people are looking at it as a real sport.” Castro referenced seeing the city blanketed with Atlanta United gear as a sign that the game is progressing.

He remembers his friends playing football and basketball as a means to get to college, but he stood his path because soccer was his sport.

Castro identified a shift in the perception of soccer since the inception of Atlanta United and ATL UTD 2, saying “People are now interested into the sport, they find it cool.”

A native of Gwinnett Country, Castro knows all about the undiscovered talent that exists, especially at the youth level, in his hometown. “There are so many people that I know, if Atlanta United had come earlier, I feel like they could’ve been on the academy team,” he said. “There was a lot of talent here and they had nowhere to show it.”

This is no longer the case, however, as Atlanta United’s Academy has since brought these talents to the forefront. The academy now features 14 players from Gwinnett County, all aiming to take the next step to ATL UTD 2 at the Proving Ground, and hopefully one day play for the First Team.