The Atlanta United Academy finished group play in Westfield, Ind. last week. Thanks to winning Group A, the team will continue its playoff run when they host Bethesda SC at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Thursday, July 6. The winner will advance to the Academy Championships, set to take place at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif. from July 14-16.
The U-18s finished in second in Group B despite not losing a game, meaning the Atlanta United Academy didn’t drop a match all week. For Academy Director Tony Annan, there was a lot to be proud of.
“We’ve developed, progressed and evolved,” Annan said.” And for me, that’s what’s most important. Those guys can leave the club knowing they have set the standard for the future.”
George Bello, Zyen Jones help lead U16s to claim Group A
The U-16s won Group A by collecting seven points over three matches. Zyen Jones registered goals in all three matches and recent Homegrown signing George Bello anchored a defense that allowed just one goal. Bello played all 240 minutes.
In the opener, Atlanta battled to a draw with Montreal Impact with Jones scoring the lone goal. Atlanta then beat Chicago Fire (4-1) behind goals from Jones, James Brighton, Alessandro Castro and Blake White. Heading into the final day, Atlanta was tied with Montreal, but coupled with the club’s win over Players Development Academy (1-0) and Montreal’s loss to Chicago, Atlanta clinched Group A.
“The boys showed great character to get through,” Annan said. “There were some really tough conditions, against some very good teams, and it was great to see them play so well. I’m really proud of our 16’s.”
U-18s go undefeated in three matches, finish second in Group B
The U-18s collected five points over three matches, finishing in second place in Group B behind LA Galaxy. Recently signed Homegrown Patrick Okonkwo scored in the opener against the Galaxy, but the two teams split the points in a 1-1 draw. Atlanta picked up a win in its second match as Andrew Carleton scored the lone goal to defeat Boston Bolts 1-0.
Needing a win in the finale, Atlanta took an early lead on Sporting Kansas City with a goal from Laurent Kissiedou, but the game ultimately ended 1-1.
“I told our players and our staff that we can’t be disappointed just because we didn’t get through,” Annan said. “If you go through and look at the body of work, we finished as the No. 1 national seed, almost finishing the season undefeated, and we had five kids sign Homegrown contracts to the next level. The playoffs are not the end-all, be-all.”
U14s wrap up Summer Showcase with win over Seattle
The U-14s were also in Westfield, but the age group does not sanction a knockout tournament. The three matches the team played would be their last either way. Atlanta defeated Seattle Sounders FC 3-2, while also drawing with Sockers FC (2-2) and losing to Colorado Rapids (2-1).
Midfielder Jackson Wrobel led the team with three goals, all coming in the first two matches. Meanwhile, Garrett Gardner, Chase Oliver and William Reilly each scored a goal to help Atlanta defeat Seattle in the showcase finale.