While Atlanta United fans eagerly await the start of the MLS season, more details are emerging about the future of the new USL team – ATL UTD 2 – debuting this year. At the team’s first media briefing of the year, Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said the details are starting to come together.
“We’re finalizing the USL roster now,” he said. “The technical staff is coming together, and we should be announcing the assistant coach soon. We’ve come to terms with about 8 or 9 guys and we’ll look to add three to four more.”
More than the new players, many Atlanta United fans want to know how it will affect the players already on the roster. From Homegrown signings to the team’s new MLS SuperDraft picks, the technical staff gave the first hint yet of who could be suiting up for ATL UTD 2.
“All our draft picks will be here this week, but the first team is the only team training at the moment,” Bocanegra said. “Then February 12th, USL [preseason] will start. So everybody will start here and it’s up to these guys to prove where they belong.”
“With Chris [Goslin] and Andrew [Carleton], I think we can’t forget that even though they’ve been with the team for a year they’re still young,” added Head Coach Tata Martino, through a translator. “For Goslin, I think he’ll spend a lot of time with ATL UTD 2 and get minutes there for him to develop. For Andrew, he’ll get minutes with the second team, but he will also get opportunities to play with the first team.”
While the team continues to take shape, both Bocanegra and Martino emphasized the importance of the new USL team to the club’s long and short-term goals.
“We should spend a lot of time watching the team,” added Martino, “because it’s a good platform for some of our younger guys to be able to earn spots with our first team. It’ll also be beneficial to our academy, because now there’s not as big of a jump to bring someone from the academy to MLS.”
“Our philosophy is that the first team training and playing style will be pushed down to the USL team and down to all the academy teams,” Bocanegra said. “For an academy player to step up to the USL team, he’ll be familiar with how training works, the style of play and philosophy when they take that next step to the first team. Hopefully it will help integrate these guys into the first team and not feel out of place. Tata made the first team scrimmage against the academy last year, so USL will be a part of that this year. Also if there are players are doing really well in the USL and they earn a call-up or a chance to the first team, they’ll be brought up to train with them.”
ATL UTD 2 will make its home debut at Coolray Field in Gwinnett County against New York Red Bulls II on March 24th. Click here to stay updated on all the latest news on season and single-match tickets.