Atlanta United Academy’s U14s kicked their season off in one of the most challenging ways possible, with a trip to the Netherlands for the BOAL International U14 tournament. Competing with top Academies from across Europe, the U14 squad embraced the challenge and took the rowdy and proud mentality all the way to the final.
Drawn into an eight team group including FC’s Gravenzande (NL), Vejle BK (DK), Honved Boedapest (HU), AZ Alkmaar (NL), Club Brugge (BE), Borussia Dortmund (DE) and Manchester United (EN), Atlanta United went 4-0-3 in the group stage.
Friday’s opening fixtures saw back to back wins against local side, FC ‘S Gravenzande and Denmark’s Vejle BK. Goals from Suarez (2), Bryant and Fakiyesi followed by Suarez, Fakiyesi and O’Neil in the second game of the night, left Atlanta United top of the group after two games.
Atlanta United 4 – 0 FC ‘S Gravenzande
Atlanta United 3 – 0 Vejle BK
Day two saw four thirty minute games played throughout the day. Honved Boedapest opened the day with energy and withstood multiple waves of attacks, before finally succumbing to a belter from Bond, giving Atlanta United a 1-0 win. AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands came next, with possibly one of the best nil-nil games of the tournament. Each team went toe to toe, playing some brilliant stuff on each side of the ball, with neither team managing to get the winning goal. Menchaca and Gailey split minutes in goal throughout and completed four clean sheets in a row.
Atlanta United 1 – 0 Honved Boedapest
Atlanta United 0 – 0 AZ Alkmaar
After lunch, Club Brugge took on the 5-Stripes and kept the U14s at bay until late in the second half. Dominant displays in the wide areas from Fakiyesi and Bond were finally too much for the Belgians, who stopped the first header, but could do nothing about the second, from Suarez, after yet another great ball into the box. The game finished 1-0 to Atlanta United before moving on to play Borussia Dortmund in the final game of the day. A tired 0-0 completed the days games as neither side could find the finish needed and both goalkeepers came to the rescue to keep their clean sheets.
Atlanta United 1 – 0 Club Brugge
Atlanta United 0 – 0 Borussia Dortmund
Sunday morning saw Atlanta United take on Manchester United in the final game of the group stage, with Atlanta United needing just a point to progress to the semifinal. In another athletic and energetic display, the boys fashioned enough chances to win the game, but the excellent shot stopping skills of Manchester United’s keeper prevented Atlanta from taking the lead. Standout performances from Kwon, Ilevbare and Bryant were necessary in the middle as Manchester United went man for man across the field in an intriguing contest. Atlanta United countered with the final attack of the game, with the resulting shot going narrowly wide and the game ending 0-0. With Dortmund winning their final game, Atlanta United progressed in second place in the group to play Laranja Mecanica (BR). Borussia Dortmund would meet Aberdeen on the other side of the semi-final’s.
ATL UTD 0 – 0 Manchester United
A rapid start to the semi-final saw Atlanta United two goals up within ten minutes. Goals from Bryant and Suarez, later followed by a back post finish from Fakiyesi, were enough to see off the boys from Brazil. A very physical encounter, Atlanta United held their own and battled to control the game and manage the closing stages in order to progess to the final v. Aberdeen.
Atlanta United 3 – 0 Laranja Mecanica
The atmosphere provided by the organizers, locals, parents and other teams was fantastic for the final. With the level of refereeing, exceptional players were able to push each other, while keeping in check by top level officiating for the final. Both team’s were very comfortable in the build and found ways to adapt to the game and challenge each other, though neither team could find that definitive action in the final third to take the win. With the game level after thirty minutes, the team’s went to penalties to decide the winner of the BOAL International U14 Tournament 2023. Aberdeen earned the win, successfully tucking away all five penalties for a 5-3 win.
Atlanta United 0 – 0 Aberdeen (Aberdeen win 5-3 on penalties)
Atlanta United U14’s return to action this weekend with pre-season friendlies against regional rivals, Charlotte FC, Nashville SC and Austin FC.