Atlanta United President Darren Eales and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra answer question regarding the partnership with Charleston Battery.
ATLUTD: Sounds like you did plenty of due diligence research on the Battery before reaching a conclusion. So why Charleston? What was influential to making your decision, and when did you first feel satisfied that you'd found a good partner?
DE: There were a number of factors that led us to choose Charleston. They have a strong executive group and run a professional organization. They have a quality, soccer-specific stadium and training pitch next to the stadium and are geographically close, making it easier for our technical staff and fans to visit.
ATLUTD: How does bringing the Battery on a year early, in essence, help your club? What goals do you have from this first year of affiliation?
DE: The affiliation gives us the opportunity to sign players in 2016 and place and develop them in a high-level, professional environment. It also gives us an option for any younger international players we might sign to acclimate to America ahead of 2017. Our primary goal is to build a strong foundation for our club by providing a professional environment where our players, including academy players, are able to train and compete together before our official season starts in ’17.
ATLUTD: What does Mike Anhaeuser offer as a partner in player development? What value does he provide your club at this stage in your development?
CB: Mike has great experience and I’m looking forward to working closely with him and building on the work he’s done with their club over the years. He’ll be a strong partner on the technical side. He’s developed some quality players over the years who have moved on to MLS like Ozzie Alonso and Michael Azira.
ATLUTD: What are your goals for the players you send our way? And how often should we expect to see you around?
CB: We want to continue to develop our young players in a high level environment so they are prepared to compete for positions with Atlanta United as we come into the league. I plan to stay in close contact and provide support in person throughout the year.
ATLUTD: You've had some time to look at Battery players in action. What are the chances that we'll see some 2015-16 Battery talent suiting up for Atlanta in 2017?
CB: This partnership gives us a good opportunity to monitor Battery players. We’re always on the lookout for exceptional talent.
ATLUTD: Please describe a profile for the type of players you're looking to sign in 2016, given that AUFC won't convene its first MLS camp for another year? Would these be players with experience at the next level? Locking in contracts on players who are already clearly performing at a level consistent with the next level? Or is this more about evaluating young prospects who project well to the next level?
CB: Our approach will always be to find well-rounded players that will be able to compete at the next level.