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Sixteen and Pro: Homegrowns Chris Goslin and Andrew Carleton

Last summer, Andrew Carleton (pictured right) and Chris Goslin (pictured left) made history when they signed as Atlanta United’s first Homegrown players.

It’s 2017 now and they haven’t looked back.

Two weeks ago they started a journey that they dreamed of as kids when they took part in the MLS expansion club’s first preseason training with the senior team.

Carleton, a native of Powder Springs, Ga. and Goslin, a native of Locus Grove, Ga., have been knotted in the soccer community not only in Georgia but on the international scene as well. Both have been regulars in the U.S. Soccer youth system, travelling across borders to compete with the best youth players around the globe.

But yet, at the age of 16, have they ever been placed on a field next to seasoned professionals. With the 2017 MLS Preseason in full swing, a brand new, thrilling challenge faces the two Atlanta Homegrowns.

This is certainly unchartered territory, but they couldn’t be happier with how things have shaped up so far in the home city.

“It’s been a dream come true.” Goslin said. “It’s pretty amazing. First year in the MLS, first preseason, being so young, coming into this new team, it’s just all exciting.”

Carleton added, “It’s been fun so far getting to know the team and the coaching staff and how everybody plays. It’s been challenging getting into the speed of things, but as preseason goes on, we’re improving.”

Not only is this their first go-around as professionals, but they’re fortunate enough to have a true world-class manager steering the ship in Gerardo “Tata” Martino. With nearly the entire coaching staff speaking English as their second language, both Homegrowns mentioned it’s been a little strange but in no way has it hindered the pure quality and caliber of the training sessions.

The two 16-year-olds have been nothing short of impressed by Martino’s methods.

“Andrew and I were talking about it the other day,” Goslin mentioned. “His drills, just his normal passing drills that he has are like nothing we’ve ever seen growing up.”

“The littlest things for him challenge you,” Carleton said. “So it progressively, even in the smallest drills, gets you better and better and working on the technical and tactical side of your game. It’s great to be able to play for a guy that’s been at the highest level and knows what it takes to be able to get there.”

It’s been quite the eye-opening professional experience for the youngsters on and off the field. One aspect in particular about their new teammates has struck them both: the dedication to the grind.

“Usually at the youth level and at lower levels, not everybody’s giving 110 percent on and off the field to be able to get better,” said Carleton. “Here, everybody takes every second so seriously.”

Goslin mentioned that even down to the daily diet, no one messes around. Nutrition plays a huge role in performance as you age, and Carleton and Goslin are learning these practices early, which is crucial.

For these teenagers, finding every advantage is key because the biggest challenges they face are the towering, experienced, professional teammates competing day in and day out for playing time on Tata Martino’s MLS side.

While the young Homegrowns will face this adversity at every session, they admit that the challenge is their favorite part of the journey so far. Of course, it also helps to have someone by your side who’s been through it all with you. Literally.

“It makes it a lot better,” Carleton said of having Goslin by his side. “I mean when you’re going through a hard time you can look over and see your buddy that has been there with you since you were 10 years old.”

Goslin echoed that statement, “It’s a little hard to relate to some guys, I mean they’re married, they have kids, their thought process is completely different from us. So it’s good to have someone your own age, your best friend here with you.”

The two Atlanta United Homegrowns have an unfamiliar and demanding test ahead of them, but will work tirelessly and relentlessly in order to join an elite group of players as some of the youngest in the game to ever take the field at the professional level.