The Atlanta United U-15/16 academy team is one win away from a national championship after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 in a semifinal battle on the West Coast.
Facing an experienced Vancouver side on a blustery day in Carson, California, Atlanta United Head Coach Tony Annan named the same starting lineup that he did in the quarterfinals. Newly-named Eastern Conference player of the year George Bello and Homegrown signing Andrew Carleton led the way. The full lineup: Sai Brown (GK), Natnael McDonald (RB), Kendall Edwards (CB), William Crain (CB), George Bello (LB), Charlie Asensio (CM), Alessandro Castro (CM), Dylan Gaither (CM), Andrew Carleton (RW), James Brighton (ST), Zyen Jones (LW).
Atlanta had a good stretch of possession to open the game, but Vancouver was quick to show why they were a step above the competition Atlanta had played thus far, forcing Sai Brown into some early saves to preserve the clean sheet. However, Atlanta would take the lead less than ten minutes before halftime, and it was Homegrown Andrew Carleton who broke the deadlock. A slick passing move ended on Alessandro Castro at the edge of the box who played a perfectly-weighted through ball to Carleton on the right wing. Carleton then did brilliantly to get his foot around the ball and swerve a shot past the goalkeeper inside the far post.
32' | Gooooooooal! Andrew Carleton makes it 1-0 with a far-post rocket. pic.twitter.com/aR7bDYWXNq— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) July 14, 2017
Atlanta United would come out hard trying to extend their lead in the second half. Forward James Brighton and left back George Bello – who was flying up and down the left wing all game – found themselves behind the defense on separate occasions, but Vancouver did well to keep them out. The Whitecaps youth posed plenty of threats themselves, but couldn't find a way past the wall of William Crain and Kendall Edwards in the center of the Atlanta United defense.
Atlanta would seal it four minutes from the final whistle. This time Andrew Carleton would turn creator, sending a ball down the left wing to second-half substitute Jackson Conway. Conway used his fresh legs to burn past the defense and send a cool, composed left-footed finish past the goalkeeper at the near post to make it 2-0.
76' | Gooooooooal! Jackson Conway finishes to make it 2-0! pic.twitter.com/96dxtIrsnq— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) July 14, 2017
The win means Atlanta move on to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship match, where they will meet the back-to-back champions, the FC Dallas Academy, on Sunday at 6:30 pm EST. To watch a replay of the full match stream provided by the USSDA, just click here: