Atlanta United is proving once again the Five Stripes don’t stop, announcing Friday they have signed goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt from USL side FC Cincinnati. As technical director Carlos Bocanegra put it, Hildebrandt will “add to the overall quality of our goalkeeper contignent.” So who is the newest member of the Five Stripes?
One of two soccer-playing brothers from Livonia, Michigan, Hildebrandt began his career in the collegiate system. After redshirting his freshman year, he played all four years at Oakland University, where he was a team captain and ended with the best save percentage and goals allowed average in the Summit League.
The Class of USL
After graduating college, he blossomed into the gold standard of goalkeeping in second-division U.S. soccer. After moving to FC Cincinnati for their inaugural USL season in 2016, he became the cornerstone of one of the most competitive teams in the second division, earning the USL Goalkeeper of the Year award. Hildebrandt was then the star contributor for the team’s Cinderella run in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup that took them all the way to the semifinals. That included a powerhouse performance in the penalty shootout to advance past MLS side Chicago Fire in front of a national stage in the fifth round of the tournament.
Standing at 6’1”, Hildebrandt is not particularly tall for a goalkeeper, but he thrives with his instincts and incredible reaction time. He has the instincts to react quickly and take the best angle to the ball as well as possessing the agility and quickness to make the save. He’s ridden those skills to a successful career, leading USL in saves last year. And he clearly succeeds in one-one-one situations, saving three penalties against the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup last season.
From Strength to Strength
Brad Guzan’s addition to the Atlanta United lineup helped form the Five Stripes defense into one of the most formidable units in the league. With Alec Kann one of the surprises of the early season in MLS, Hildebrandt joins one of the most talented goalkeeping platoons in the league, elevating it even higher in year two for the club.
Hildebrandt becomes Atlanta United’s first new acquisition of the 2017/18 offseason. Stay tuned, the season may be over but the Five Stripes don’t stop.