2018 has arrived and every day that passes by means we’re even closer to kickoff of the MLS season. But there’s plenty of work to be done before the season opener both on and off the field, so let’s look at what lies ahead for Atlanta United in the month of January.
2018 Schedule Release
In December, the league announced the 2018 season opener and home opener for every MLS club, with Atlanta United beginning their second season on the road as they face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, March 3. Shortly after, they will host D.C. United for their first match in Mercedes-Benz Stadium of the new year on Sunday, March 11. Keep an eye out for the full 2018 schedule release later this month.
MLS Combine and SuperDraft
January is also the month of the league’s annual MLS SuperDraft, closely resembling that of any other American professional sports draft. This year the draft will be held in Philadelphia, PA beginning on Jan. 19.
The player pool primarily consists of players who have just recently finished their NCAA career or players who have decided to forego their college eligibility to become professionals. Clubs select players over the course of four rounds with the selection order determined by the previous season’s finish in the standings.
Prior to the SuperDraft, a select number of elite prospects are invited to participate in the MLS Combine. The event offers an opportunity for players to showcase their skill and raise their draft stock while allowing coaches and technical staff a chance to evaluate the field. This year’s combine will take place in Orlando, FL between Sunday Jan. 11 and Jan. 17.
Make sure to tune in for all the MLS SuperDraft action, where there are plenty of young players who can contribute right away. After all, it is where Atlanta United found 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel.
In mid-November, Atlanta United announced it is launching a second-division team to compete in the USL in 2018. The team –– which will compete out of Coolray Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett Braves –– will offer another opportunity to further develop players in the ATL UTD system, particularly younger players. Details on the USL side name and crest have yet to be announced, but last year the schedule was released at the end of January, so stay tuned for important news to come soon.
On January 22nd, Atlanta United's squad will report for the first day of preseason where the players and coaches will officially begin their preparation for the 2018 MLS season. Make sure to follow ATL UTD’s social channels for an inside look and exclusive coverage of the team as they train together for the first time in the new year. Details for ATL UTD’s preseason have not been announced.
Preparing for February
The month of February will be here before we know it, so during January Atlanta United will have their minds focused on their first competition of the year as they travel a state over to face USL expansion side Nashville SC in a preseason friendly at First Tennessee Park on Saturday, Feb. 10.
They will then travel to Charleston, S.C. to compete in the Carolina Challenge Cup, Charleston Battery’s annual four-team round robin preseason tournament at MUSC Health Stadium. This year fellow MLS clubs Columbus Crew and Minnesota United will also be in attendance. See Atlanta United’s schedule below:
Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew SC – Feb. 17 @5:00pm
Atlanta United vs Minnesota United – Feb. 21 @7:30pm
Atlanta United vs Charleston Battery – Feb. 24 @7:30pm
You can purchase tickets to those matches here.