Last Saturday at 7:30pm, Andrew Carleton made history on the field at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. At just sixteen years of age, Carleton earned his first start for the Atlanta United’s USL affiliate Charleston Battery, making him the youngest American player ever to start a USL match.
Already in the history books as Atlanta United’s very first Homegrown player, the Georgia native continues to showcase his promise and potential on-loan at USL side Charleston Battery and also at the youth international level with the U-17 U.S. Men’s National Team.
Saturday, the Battery faced off against Eastern Conference opponents, Bethlehem Steel FC. With only three regular season games remaining, this was a crucial match in terms of the USL playoff picture, and Head Coach, Mike Anhaeuser, turned to his youngest asset to help give them a spark.
After news of Carleton’s start broke, one fan was quick to express his support with an Andrew Carleton chant.
"I had some nerves at the start," said Carleton. "But as the game went on I kind of forgot about it and focused on playing the game and doing whatever I could to contribute to the team. It was a great atmosphere and I was happy to be able to help us get the win tonight."
Overall, the sixteen-year-old showed well in his first start, proving confidence on the ball and creating opportunities on goal, helping the Battery to a 2-1 victory. Carleton has been constantly termed “fearless” due to his willingness to try the unexpected on the ball, and he had no issues following through with this notion in his performance on Saturday. Nearly capitalizing on a few chances, he was unfortunate not to be on the scoresheet.
Fellow Atlanta United teammates, Alex Tambakis and Jeffrey Otoo also contributed to the victory with Tambakis playing 90 minutes in goal for the Battery and Otoo subbing on for Carleton for the final 24 minutes.
Leading up to Atlanta United’s inaugural season in 2017, Carleton continues to show that he is a rising star and will stop at nothing to realize his dreams.