Academy Recap – June 27

The First Team may have had a break from league play in June, but the future of the club was hard at work. Here’s what you may have missed with the Atlanta United Academy this month:

Year 3 comes to a close

Year three of the Atlanta United Academy season has come to a close, with the U-15’s, U-17’s and U-19’s all wrapping up their season in the Academy Playoffs last weekend. While none of the age groups took home the trophy this year, it’s been another successful season for the Academy from top to bottom. From their 39-25-18 record across the age groups in USSDA play, to winning the Nexen Man City Cup and representing Atlanta and the MLS in tournaments all over the world, it’s yet another proud year for an Academy system that is still only three years old. The players will get a little over a month off before the whole year starts back over again in the Fall.

Cup Winners Join Arthur Blanks’s Suite

Speaking of the winners of the Nexen Man City Cup, they got a little gift from the man fans call Uncle Arthur this month. Arthur Blank invited the whole squad up into his suite for the Chicago Fire match back on June 1st, with a special ceremony honoring the team on the field at halftime. It was a fair reward for an incredible achievement for the squad on the pitch.

Academy Director Tony Annan signs contract extension

The leadership of the Atlanta United Academy is sticking around. The team announced Academy Director Tony Annan agreed to a multiyear contract extension this month. With 24 years of coaching experience, Annan was hired as Academy Manager in 2016 and was soon promoted to Academy Director in December of that year. Annan has overseen one of the most successful kickoffs of an Academy in American soccer, including the signing of eight professional players, as well as 31 players who have earned Division 1 scholarships.

NCAA Signing Day

Thirteen more Atlanta United Academy graduates are headed to Division I NCAA Soccer programs. The players announced their college decisions in a special ceremony at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Atlanta earlier this month. It’s the Academy’s largest group of D-I signees yet, as mentioned before bringing the total number from the Atlanta United system up to 31 in just three years. It’s part of the bigger picture measures for success for the Academy: giving young athletes a chance to use their skills to succeed in life on and off the pitch.

“It’s nearly impossible to produce twelve professional players every cycle,” says Academy Director Tony Annan. “So we have to really be focused on education and getting guys into that pathway. Hopefully some of those come through that pathway out as professionals on the other end. For those that don’t, it sets them up for a good career and a good start in life at a great college.”

U14s face LaLiga giants

Some of the very best youth prospects in world soccer are learning their trade in Span, and the Atlanta United U-14 squad got a special invitation to measure themselves against the best this month at the Torneo Asisa in Leon, Spain. While they fell just short versus LaLiga sides Real Madrid and Real Betis, they were able to top the two Asian sides in the tournament in FC Tokyo and Guangzhou Evergrande to finish in third place on the weekend. The squad was able to take home some hardware, however, with Alan Carleton being named the Tournament MVP.

Goal of the Month

There were plenty of contenders for the unofficial Academy Goal of the Month award, but this casual long-range effort from Malachi Grant for the U-13's stands above the rest: