Academy Director Tony Annan to coach MLS squad in 2018 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer®
MLS team will take on reigning Mexican league U20 champions, Tigres UANL; match to be played at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground
ATLANTA (June 12, 2018) – Major League Soccer today announced that Atlanta United Academy Director Tony Annan will serve as the head coach for the MLS Homegrown team as it takes on Tigres UANL in the fifth annual MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer®. As part of the week of events at 2018 MLS All-Star Atlanta, the match will be played at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Tuesday, July 31 at 8 p.m. In addition to the live national broadcast on Univision Deportes Network (UDN), the MLS Homegrown Game will be streamed live on Twitter for the first time in the history of the event.
Tickets, starting at $15, may be purchased on Ticketmaster.com and includes entrance to the Special Olympics Unified Sports® All-Star Soccer Match presented by MLS WORKS and ESPN, held immediately prior at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. Tickets are now available by CLICKING HERE.
Annan, Atlanta United’s Academy Director, joined the club in 2015 and was instrumental in building the academy from the ground up. He brings more than 20 years of youth development experience to the match and is one of only six coaches to hold licenses from the U.S. Soccer Academy Director’s Course and the Elite Formation Coaching License course (EFCL). With a focus on cultivating talented academy products, Annan has helped Atlanta identify and develop standout youth players from the academy to the first team, including five who signed as Homegrowns. In addition to a breakthrough year for all Atlanta United Academy teams in its inaugural season in 2016-17, Annan was also the head coach of the club’s U-17 squad that won the national title. Since the academy began play in August of 2016, more than 30 players have been called up to Youth National Teams under Annan’s leadership, including some in residency full time with the U.S. U-17 National Team.
- CLICK HERE for media assets including video soundbytes from Atlanta United Academy Director Tony Annan
One of the many highly anticipated events during the week of events surrounding 2018 MLS All-Star Atlanta, the MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer® provides an annual platform in which to showcase MLS’ burgeoning young talent and demonstrate the growth of the League’s youth development system. MLS academies continue to attract and cultivate topflight prospects and have now produced over 150 Homegrown Players who have signed professional contracts with MLS clubs. Vital to the long-term success of their clubs, Homegrown Players now serve more important and visible roles than ever, with academy products logging a record number of goals, assists, minutes and games played in 2017. Of note, the 94 assists compiled by Homegrown Players in 2017 is more than double the total compared to 2016.
Homegrown Players have also become significant contributors at the international level with the U.S. and Canadian youth and senior national teams relying on some of the league’s most exciting and promising young players. In the past year, 13 current Homegrown standouts have been called to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team, including MLS Homegrown Game alumnus Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas) and Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake). In addition, 11 current Homegrown Players played for the United States in the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup while seven Homegrown Players represented the U.S. at the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Outside of the U.S., five Homegrown Players were called to represent the Canada Men’s National Team at the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup, with Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) winning the tournament’s golden boot.
“The continued growth of Major League Soccer’s youth academy system and development of the future stars of the sport remain at the forefront of the league’s long-term initiatives,” said Todd Durbin, Executive Vice President of Player Relations and Competition. “The MLS Homegrown Game offers a unique opportunity to showcase the talent our clubs have produced. We are excited to have the Tigres Under-20 team as this year’s opponent in another example of how MLS continues to build upon its partnership with Liga MX in the area of youth development.”
MLS Homegrown Players are a specialized group of players that have been a member of an MLS club’s youth development program for at least one year and have met the necessary training and retention requirements. Players that meet those qualifications can sign a professional contract with the club’s senior team without being subject to the SuperDraft.
Media planning to cover the MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer®, the Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match presented by MLS WORKS and ESPN, along with the 2018 MLS All-Star Game may now apply for credentials by CLICKING HERE.
MLS All-Stadium credentials, team season credentials and credentials from previous MLS and SUM events will not be recognized for any of the media events surrounding the All-Star Game. Credential applications must be received by Wednesday, July 18.
MLS Homegrown Game History
2017: MLS Homegrown Team 2-2 Chivas de Guadalajara U-20s
2016: MLS Homegrown Team 0-1 Mexico U-20s
2015: MLS Homegrown Team 1(4)-1(5) Club América U-20s
2014: MLS Homegrown Team 0–0 Portland Timbers U-23s