Development Academy Winter showcase
One of the premier youth soccer events of the year just wrapped up in Florida as two of Atlanta United’s academy teams participated in the Development Academy Winter Showcase. The addition of Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin made the U-19 squad full-strength for the first team of the season, and after a slow start they grew into the weekend showed why there’s excitement about this age group. After working out the kinks and rust in a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders in the opener, Atlanta bounced back with a 0-0 draw with New York City FC and a 3-1 win against FC Boston Bolts, with James Brighton, Chris Goslin and Dawson Gideon getting on the scoresheet.
But the story of the weekend for Atlanta United was the U-17’s who finished the weekend unbeaten and with eight goals scored. A scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake was followed by a 6-1 thrashing of Toronto FC and a 2-1 win against Vardar FC. There may be no hotter striker in the age group right now than Atlanta’s Jackson Conway, who finished the weekend with five goals in three games and now sits at 20 goals in just 15 games so far this season.
“A solid week for the Atlanta United Academy with many challenging games and some great individual performances,” said Academy Director Tony Annan. “Happy with the display of good soccer from both U-17s and U-19s. Still plenty of work to do.”
GA Norcross Cup Champions
Meanwhile, some of the Atlanta United U-17 players stuck around to compete on the local level, and try to bring home a cup while they were at it. Atlanta United beat out Roswell Santos, UFA Norcross, NCFC and PBFC by a combined aggregate score of 14-3 to go 4-0 on the weekend and win the U-17 Generation Adidas Norcross Cup.
With the U-17 FIFA World Cup now in the rearview, the U.S. Men’s National is starting a new chapter in the age group with a new generation of players. And it seems Atlanta United’s George Bello, who was recently named the #1 player in his class by Top Drawer Soccer, is a key part of that future. At the U-17 Nike Friendles, Bello went head to head with some of the best players in the age group in the world, representing the U.S.A. against reigning U-17 World Cup champions England and Brazil. His lockdown defensive style was key all weekend, and he was rewarded with the captain’s armband against England. He also earned a call-up to the U-18 National Team camp, the youngest player in the camp to get an invite. Having just missed out on the U-17 World Cup squad earlier this year, it’s clear he’s a main priority for the team moving forward.
Copa Rayados Internacional
Some valuable experience for the U-15 squad, who went toe-to-toe with some of Mexico’s best young talent at the Copa Rayados Internacional tournament. Facing powerhouse clubs south of the border like Chivas Guadalajara and Santos Laguna, the team put in solid performances in a valuable experience against top-tier opposition. Despite falling in the semifinal, Atlanta United lost only once all weekend and conceded just four goals in as many games to go 1-1-2 on the weekend.
Finally, it’s the season of giving and the Atlanta United academy took the chance to give back to the local community over the Thanksgiving period. Four players stepped up to serve meals at the Atlanta Mission Shepherd’s Inn, reaffirming the club’s commitment to remaining involved in the city.