Unified

 Atlanta United today announced its 2021 Special Olympics Unified Team, presented by Gallagher. The Unified Team celebrated the launch of its fifth year at its annual Signing Day event where players signed their contracts, joined by former Atlanta United players and founding Unified ambassadors Mark Bloom and Greg Garza.


Launched in 2017, Atlanta United’s Unified Team is part of MLS WORKS’ collaboration with Special Olympics to form the Special Olympics Unified Sports Soccer Exchange Program. The program unites individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as members of one team to promote an environment of social inclusion through soccer.


“I’m thrilled that the Unified Team is able to return this season after a difficult year which prevented us from coming together on the pitch,” said Atlanta United goalkeeper and Unified Ambassador Brad Guzan. “It’s a terrific program that uses the sport of soccer to reinforce inclusivity, it’s something I’m very passionate about and it has become a significant part of our club. I’m excited that we are finally able to return to play in a fun and safe environment and create lasting memories with our Unified Team.”


The club has hosted Signing Day each year since 2017 at its training ground where Unified players are greeted by the chants of official supporters’ groups and welcomed into the club by staff and players. Due to the First Team being away for its match against Seattle, players and club executives recorded messages that were played during the Signing Day ceremony where players signed their contracts alongside Bloom and Garza, who also spoke during the event.


This season the club partnered with Gallagher, which is the presenting sponsor of Atlanta United’s Unified Team.


“Gallagher is incredibly honored to be the presenting sponsor of the Atlanta United Unified Team,” said Christopher E. Mead, Gallagher Chief Marketing Officer.  “We believe in empowering and embracing the abilities of all individuals, whether it be athletes, coaches or coworkers. Atlanta United shares these same values, and we are eager for the season to kick off to watch athletes of all abilities find their confidence through the power of sport.”


The Atlanta United Unified Team trains weekly at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground where it is frequently joined by First and Second Team players, including this year’s Unified ambassadors Brad Guzan and Santiago Sosa. Guzan enters his fourth year as an ambassador while Sosa joins for his first season. The Unified Team is closely tied to the players, who attend practices and matches.


Traditionally, the team has played against other Unified teams within MLS, either traveling to other cities or hosting them in Atlanta for matches scheduled in conjunction with MLS competitions. However, the ongoing pandemic continues to impact this year’s schedule and it is still to be determined who Atlanta United will play in 2021. The team will train weekly during the summer while it is actively working with other Unified teams to schedule matches.


2021 Unified Team roster:

AthletesJersey #Hometown

George Ezikpe

65

Austell, GA

Cameron Ziegler

20

Acworth, GA

Antonio Guzmam

8

Powder Spring, GA

Shaq Pinson

2

Rome, GA

Michael Mastrangelo

1

Acworth, GA

Zach Montague

24

Marietta, GA

Camille Flewellen

16

Chicago, IL

Felix Gomez Romero

10

Austell, GA

Brendan Jagielski

17

Johns Creek, GA

Fernando Gomez

11

Lecheria, Venezuela

Steffen Walker

30

Lawrenceville, GA

Alex Eberle

22

Alpharetta, GA

Liam Stuart

19

Alpharetta, GA

PartnersJersey #Hometown

Israel Luna

98

Mexico City, Mexico

Kris Fields

4

Smyrna, GA

David Wilkerson 

12

Austell, GA 

Martin Luna

23

Powder Spring, GA

Olivia Wilkerson

7

Austell, GA 

Emma Sim

13

Smyrna, GA

Nick Villar

27

Johns Creek, GA

Joe Villar

18

Johns Creek, GA

Coaches

Mabel Chibo

Luis Luna

Marco Patrie

Abby Lutzenkirchen

Marty Jelleme

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