As one of the pillars of Atlanta United, the Academy lays the foundation for the club's future, developing young players into prospective professionals. The last few weeks have proven to be big milestones for ATL UTD and its bright youth program. Here's what's been going on with the Academy:
Carleton’s First Start
In July came a massive moment for both the first team and the Academy as the club’s first-ever Homegrown player – Andrew Carleton – earned his first MLS start, making him the first ATL UTD Homegrown to do so. The 18-year-old midfielder contributed 65 minutes in a 3-1 comeback win over D.C. United, including a nifty move and a beautiful service that set up the 2nd goal of the night. The crowd roared for “one of their own” that night and it’s only the beginning of his time on the pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
At the turn of August came the MLS All-Star game in Atlanta, and with it came a special moment for the ATL UTD Academy as three of the club’s own represented in the 2018 MLS Homegrown Game against Tigres U-20. Homegrowns Andrew Carleton and Lagos Kunga played alongside the rest of the league’s most promising young talents coached by none other than ATL UTD Academy Director Tony Annan. In a back & forth 1-1 draw, it was a memorable night at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground and as if the story wasn’t special enough, Carleton took home the game’s MVP award.
New Season. New Members.
July marked the official end of the 2017/18 USSDA season, and with a new year comes new members of the 5-Stripes family. On August 9th, ATL UTD announced the addition of three new coaches to the Academy: Stephen Glass, Diego Ordaz and Omar Jarun. There are plenty new faces on the field as well which were named on Monday night at the 2018 ATL UTD Academy Dinner at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The rosters for each age group were unveiled in a special ceremony as the Academy looks to build on their brilliant first two seasons as they head into their third.
Off to Mexico.
The teams may have just been announced but the Academy is wasting no time getting to business. On Tuesday, just a day after the dinner, the U-17 headed down to Mexico to compete in the LIGA BBVA Bancomer Internacional tournament along with three other MLS teams –– the LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and FC Dallas –– and four Liga MX giants in Pachuca, Atlas, and Chivas Guadalajara. Each team will face each other once and at the end of the tournament, each MLS side and Liga MX side with the most points will play each other for the Championship in the Estadio Azteca. You can keep up with all the matches and live streams at the Liga MX site or on their Facebook page.
A new branch of the club built to benefit the First Team as well as the Academy is the addition of ATL UTD 2, which competes in U.S. Soccer’s second tier – the USL. A place where the club’s youth can gain valuable experience, some Atlanta United Academy members have already made appearances for the side and last month the team officially signed its first Academy product in Alessandro Castro. Three others recently earned their first minutes for ATL UTD 2 as Dylan Gaither, Victor Pereyra-Zavala, and Diego Lopez all put in solid stints for the side. With a heavy home stretch to end the season, there are plenty of opportunities to see the future of Atlanta United play. Make sure your secure your ATL UTD 2 tickets here.
There’s no better honor than that of representing your nation and Atlanta United’s Academy products continue to earn their national reputations. Diego Lopez was called into the U.S. U-17’s – scoring a brace to lift his team over Costa Rica – while Kevin Mendoza was called into Guatemala’s U-17 camp.
That’s a wrap for the latest Academy Recap, but there’s plenty more ahead as the 2018/19 season officially kicks off. Make sure to follow the Academy on Twitter and Instagram at @AcademyATLUTD to keep up with the future of the club.