Tyler Wolff makes the most of his chances.
Most recently, the 19-year-old Homegrown player with Atlanta United had a chance to play with the U.S. U-20 men’s national team in the 2022 Concacaf U-20 championship. He and his U-20 teammates made the most of it, not just winning the title, but qualifying U.S. men’s soccer for the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
It was a historic moment for U.S. soccer. The U.S. men’s team will make its first Olympic appearance since 2008. Men's soccer is also the first U.S. sport to qualify the 2024 Olympics Games.
“I was extremely honored to be a part of that,” Wolff said. “It hasn’t been done in a couple of years and to be a part of that group, it means a lot.”
It’s the first time in history that the U-20 championship served as qualification for the Olympic Games, so stakes for the tournament were high. On top of qualifying for the Olympics, the U.S. U-20s went on to beat the Dominican Republic 6-0 on July 3 to claim the Concacaf U-20 championship title. Wolff scored in the match on a tremendous header.
A native of Snellville, Ga., Wolff signed with Atlanta United as a Homegrown player two years ago, in July 2020. This season, he started four of his five MLS matches, including the club’s 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. In that match, Wolff combined with Josef Martínez to assist the very first goal of the 2022 regular season, scored by Luiz Araújo.
“To grow and get minutes now with the first team it gave me the opportunity to be seen with the U-20s,” he said. “The whole process has been very, very neat to see and I’m happy with how it’s been so far.
His play got the attention of U.S. Soccer. Wolff was invited to join the U.S. U-20s in Honduras. It was his second callup to the U-20s this year, previously playing with the squad in March and making his debut against Argentina.
From there, Wolff looked to make the most out of representing the U.S.
“When you get your opportunity, you have to take it and run with it because you never know when you’re going to be able to represent your country and put that USA jersey on again – it could be your first, your last or many more to come,” he said. “But when you step on the field, you’re representing not only your team there and yourself, but a whole country back at home. It's a good lesson to carry with me through life.”
Wolff is among a special group at Atlanta United, a fraternity of Homegrown players raised within the club's system. He joins the likes of Jackson Conway, George Campbell, Caleb Wiley and others as players who have gone from playing at the academy level on to Atlanta United 2 and the first team.
“It’s been a very unique process,” he said. “Playing with the 2s, it was good to get minutes and play among some of my academy guys, especially Caleb Wiley. It’s been special.”
Now that Wolff is making a name for himself in international soccer, he’s looking to follow the footsteps of another Atlanta United Homegrown player: George Bello. Perhaps no other player represents the pathway to the pros better than Bello. He was part of the club’s first academy class in 2016, then went on to play for the 2s, start for the first team and was called up to play for the U.S. men’s national team. Bello is now living out his dream of playing professionally in Europe at Arminia Bielefeld.
“I told him [George Bello] before he left, ‘Thank you for showing what the pathway should be like here in Atlanta for the Homegrowns,’” Wolff said.
Along with his fellow Homegrowns, Wolff has also been surrounded by seasoned veterans at Atlanta United who have nurtured him. He credits Brad Guzan with helping young players feel welcome once they start playing with the team. From Josef Martínez, he received more technical advice and learned that sometimes the hardest thing is making the easiest pass.
His Atlanta United teammates were among the first to congratulate him for his role in helping the U.S. qualify, as were his family members. Wolff’s father, Josh and head coach of Austin FC, represented the U.S. national team in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. If Wolff were to make the Olympic team in 2024, it’d be a special, full circle moment for father and son.
With his family and Atlanta United teammates behind him, Wolff is getting more into the national team picture. And with Atlanta being announced as a host city in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the 19-year-old from Snellville could see his international aspirations grow even bigger in the years to come.
“There’s many Americans that have always had that goal of playing in a World Cup, but now that it's coming to the U.S. it’s an even bigger honor and bigger moment for our country and the players,” he said. “If I was able to represent the U.S., and if it could be at a city in Atlanta playing in a game, that would be a huge, huge goal for me. It’d be an unbelievable moment.”