July was a groundbreaking month for the Atlanta United Academy. Here’s a roundup of the news you may have missed about the future of the red, black and gold.
A National Title
There’s no other way to start than a historic achievement for the U-16/17’s team: the first trophy in Atlanta United history. After securing a bid to the USSDA final four last month, the squad won both of their two playoff games in California, including a 2-0 finals win over back-to-back champions FC Dallas to win the USSDA national championship. It was Andrew Carleton with the goals, one a stunning free kick and another an audacious volley from distance that left the FC Dallas goalkeeper with no chance.
The team ended the season with a 24-4-8 record on the season, as well as some national awards in its first year of existence – more to come on that next. The team was honored at halftime in the senior team’s final game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and was given a hero’s welcome on their return to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta training ground.
The same weekend as the national championships, the US Soccer Development Academy handed out their end-of-year awards, and it was another great night for Atlanta United. First up came the Goal of the Year award, and it was James Brighton taking home the glory after this stunning overhead kick earlier this season:
Next up was the Teams of the Season, and there was plenty of red, black and gold. Defender George Bello was honored in the U-15/16's best XI, and he was joined by fellow Homegrown signing Lagos Kunga as well as defender Edwin Figueroa in the older U-17/18 age group. And George Bello took home a huge individual honor, winning the Eastern Conference Player of the year award for his age group.
The academy’s stunning first-year success was certainly noticed by U.S. U-17 National Team coach John Hackworth. Five Atlanta United Academy players joined the squad for the team's first domestic camp since the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Goalkeeper Justin Garces, defender Charlie Asensio, midfielder Chris Goslin, and forwards Zyen Jones and Andrew Carleton were all named in the 29-player roster.
The squad trained at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training ground for a week. They played local youth team Tormenta FC as well as local NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks while they were in town. The youth turned on the style against the senior second-division side, storming to a 7-0 win with goals from Atlanta’s Chris Goslin and Zyen Jones.
MLS Homegrown Nomination
Finally, one of Atlanta United’s youth players will be showcasing his talent on the national stage. Midfielder Chris Goslin was added to the MLS Homegrown squad, joining Andrew Carleton in the display of the best young talent in Major League Soccer. The 2017 Homegrown Game, presented by Energizer®, is the fourth annual edition of the event leading up to the MLS All-Star Game. The match will take place Aug. 1 at Chicago’s Toyota Park when a roster of MLS Homegrowns take on Chivas de Guadalajara’s Under-20 team.