Atlanta United’s Academy held its 2022 National Signing Day ceremony at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Wednesday night with 15 Academy players signing a National Letter of Intent to begin their collegiate careers in the Fall.
Of the 15 signees, five players were original members of the club’s inaugural Academy team in 2016-17. One of those, center back Nigel Prince, has been a team captain on every team he’s played on while at the Academy and has committed to Northwestern. Other original U12 members include Mateo Bargagna (Tufts University), Justin McLean (Georgia State), Gray Mollenkamp (Claremont McKenna College) and Dagoberto Romero (Georgia Southern).
In total, there are 13 players committed to Division I programs, bringing the total number of Academy graduates to reach the D1 level at 54 players. Additionally on that list are Rohan Blackwell (Air Force), James Dee (Presbyterian), Bryce Griffith (South Carolina), Grant Howard (Virginia Tech), Miguel Romero (Stetson), Amari Salley (Virginia), Evan Schroeder (Georgia State), Damian Segura (Drake), Andy Sullins (Virginia) and Matthew Taylor (Georgia State).
“On behalf of all of our coaches in the program, we are extremely proud of each of our academy graduates,” Academy Director Matt Lawrey said. “This was our first generation that started at the U12 level at the Atlanta United Academy. Many of these players have moved all the way through the system, representing their club and city at every step along the way. Other players worked hard to showcase themselves in Tennessee, North Carolina and in Georgia to receive an invitation into the academy. They represent the very best in the Southeast and we will be watching them closely as they continue to grow – both as soccer players, and as people – in their collegiate career.”
Since the academy’s inception, three players have returned to sign Homegrown deals with Atlanta United after receiving their college degrees: Machop Chol, Justin Garces and Bryce Washington.
Chol played in 65 games with 42 starts for Wake Forest University, scoring 13 goals and assisting 17 more in his four years in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The South Sudan national became the 10th Homegrown signing in Atlanta United history on Jan. 19, 2021. Garces signed his Homegrown deal on Jan. 10, 2022 and has been the first-choice goalkeeper for Atlanta United 2 this season following his return from UCLA. Finally, Washington transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in 2019 after originally committing to Rutgers, where he was a Big Ten All-Freshman selection in 2017. Washington returned to Atlanta United and signing his Homegrown deal on June 4, 2021.
The full list of 2022 Atlanta United Academy graduates is as follows:
James Dee: Joined at U14 from Concorde Fire; signed with Presbyterian College
Dagoberto Romero: Joined at Academy at U12, his younger brother Pavel Romero plays in the current U17s; signed with Georgia Southern University
Mateo Bargagna: Has played with Academy since U12; signed with Tufts University
Rohan Blackwell: Joined from Concorde Fire at U14; signed with Air Force Academy
Grant Howard: Played with Academy since U13, currently plays with ATL UTD 2 in the USL Championship; signed with Virginia Tech
Gray Mollenkamp: Joined Academy at the U12 level; signed with Claremont McKenna College
Nigel Prince: A U20 Jamaican international, has played with Academy since the U12s and has captained every Academy team he’s played for; signed with Northwestern University
Evan Schroeder: Joined the Academy at U17 from UGA; signed with Georgia State University
Bryce Griffith: Joined at the U17 level from NASA; signed with University of South Carolina
Justin McLean: Has played at the Academy since U12; signed with Georgia State University
Miguel Romero: Joined at the U19 from Concorde Fire; signed with Stetson University
Amari Salley: Came to Academy at U16 from Charlotte Soccer Academy; signed with University of Virginia
Damian Segura: Joined the Atlanta United Academy at U17 from NASA; signed with Drake University
Andy Sullins: Joined Academy from FC Alliance; signed with University of Virginia
Matthew Taylor: Came to Atlanta United Academy from Concorde Fire at U15 level; signed with Georgia State University