Amidst the insanity of Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Houston, the storm delay, the plethora of goals and Miguel Almirón’s hat trick, there was one moment that will linger in minds of ATLiens for years to come: Atlanta United Homegrown Andrew Carleton took the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium to make his MLS debut.
The Powder Springs native signed as the club’s first-ever Homegrown player in June of 2016, and less than a year later he’s made history once again playing in front of his hometown fans, becoming the first Homegrown for Atlanta United to record an MLS appearance.
“It was unbelievable,” said Carleton. “It was a dream come true to be able to make my first MLS appearance and to be able to just get on the field for a few minutes. It was an unbelievable feeling. I have been dreaming about this moment since I first started playing soccer so it was a dream come true.”
In the 86th minute, the 16-year-old stepped onto the field replacing the night’s man of the match, Miguel Almirón, but not before the Paraguayan offered Carleton a genuine embrace, one that the crowd adored. One wouldn’t think the stadium could get louder as the fans applauded the hat-trick hero, but there was quite the uproar when their own entered the field.
When asked if he could hear the fans, Carleton replied, “They are little too loud to not hear. I was just focused on getting in and doing my job but I of course heard them.”
In the short span of time, the Homegrown was able to find the ball a few times even in transition and showcased superb maturity as a teenager.
“At first, I was just trying to run away from (DaMarcus) Beasley. I was just trying to get up the field and get away from our goal. It looked like I maybe could have got through but being up 4-1 late in the game, I was just trying to kill the game off and be able to keep the ball.”
Carleton will remember the moment forever, when he clocked his first MLS minutes and recorded his first touches in front of his home crowd, but the rising star also knows this is only the beginning.
Dreams no longer. pic.twitter.com/K7bRxv4TQp— Andrew Carleton (@andrewcarleton7) May 22, 2017