A First Senior Start, and an Official Debut
The past month marked another historic step for the Atlanta United Academy. In Atlanta United’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against NASL Spring Champions Miami FC, the club’s first ever homegrown signing, 17-year-old Andrew Carleton, made his first ever start for the club. The Georgia native was one of the most impressive players on the field, earning the game-tying penalty and showing no fear as he took on veteran players time after time on either wing.
While the game ended in a disappointing late loss, there was more positive news for the future of the club in the second half. Just days after becoming one of three players leading the next wave of academy-bred talent signing first-team contracts, 18-year-old Lagos Kunga came on to make his official debut in the second half. Kunga’s introduction meant Atlanta fielded an entire front line – Kunga, Carleton and Brandon Vazquez – all 18-years-old or younger, an incredible sign for the future of the club.
U-16’s Moving on to USSDA Semifinals
The Atlanta United U-16 team is two wins away from a national championship. The team hosted nearly 1,000 fans at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground to face Bethesda SC in the USSDA Quarterfinals. The fans got their money’s with Homegrown signings Andrew Carleton and George Bello helping lead the squad to a 4-1 win to clinch their spot in the semifinals. With first team Head Coach Tata Martino, Club President Darren Eales and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra all in attendance, it was this combination between Alesandro Castro, Zyen Jones and Carleton that was the pick of the bunch.
The squad now heads to California for their semifinal match against the Vancouver Whitecaps in Carson on Friday. If they win, they will face the winner of FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake in the final. Full extended highlights of their quarterfinal victory can be viewed here:
Goal of the Year
Speaking of the U-16’s, Atlanta United’s own James Brighton has been nominated for the US Soccer Development Academy Goal of the Year award for this stunning overhead kick:
Now it’s up to the fans to make sure he wins. Click here to cast your vote and make sure James gets the recognition that rocket deserves, and use #GOYBrighton to spread the word and get it trending among the ATL faithful.
U-18, U-14 Teams’ Seasons Comes to a Close
The U-18 season came to a close after a great year of progress for the Academy’s oldest side. The squad went toe-to-toe with some of the best academies in the country in the USSDA Showcase in Indiana in late June, earning a hard-fought draw against the LA Galaxy and beating FC Boston Bolts 1-0 with a stunning free kick from Homegrown signing Andrew Carleton.
With some of the side’s most experienced players called up to the senior team for Open Cup action, they fell just short of a win against Sporting Kansas City in the final game of the showcase, a 1-1 draw. The team just missed out on a playoff spot, despite a stunning season that ended with 24 wins, 7 draws and just 2 losses.
The U-14 team also played their final games of the academy season at the USSDA Showcase in Indiana. They too went blow for blow with some of the best academy teams in the nation, earning a draw against Sockers FC before falling just short against the Colorado Rapids, 2-1. But they finished strong with a solid 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders to end the season with an impressive 14 wins, 5 draws and 8 losses. All in all, plenty of positive signs for both teams as they regroup and look to come back even stronger next year.