Atlanta United announced today it has signed Efrain Morales as a Homegrown Player, effective Jan. 1, 2021. The 16-year-old defender is the eighth player to sign as a Homegrown in club history and is the first player to sign from the academy’s inaugural U-12 team.
“We’re pleased to announce Efrain as our latest product to sign out of our Academy,” said Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra. “Efrain has been with us since we started the program in 2016, and credit goes to the hard work of our entire Academy staff as Efrain has developed consistently, but still shows a lot of potential. He’s a local kid who joined our academy at a young age, so he thoroughly understands the Atlanta United philosophy and has a strong understanding of how we want to play. We’re eager to see his continued development.”
Morales joined the Atlanta United Academy for its inaugural season in 2016-17, playing for the U-12s. He made 22 appearances and scored four goals. He quickly jumped age groups the following season, splitting time equally between the U-15s and U-14s and appearing in 16 matches for each team.
He broke through during the 2018-19 season, where he was called-up to the U.S. U-15 National Team for camps in August 2018 and January 2019. And although only 14 years old at the time, Morales again jumped age groups for the USSDA 2018-19 season, joining Atlanta’s U-17s for 10 matches, in addition to appearing in 10 matches for the U-15s. Last season, Morales mostly played for Atlanta’s U-17s and was most recently called into the U.S. U-17 National Team camp in February 2020, a key camp for the 2021 U-17 FIFA World Cup.
Name: Efrain Morales
Birthdate: March 4, 2004 (Age: 16)
Birthplace: Decatur, Georgia
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Citizenship: United States
Transaction: Atlanta United signed Efrain Morales as a Homegrown Player on Aug. 12, 2020, to take effect Jan. 1, 2021.
2020 Atlanta United roster (as of August 12, 2020)
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, Alec Kann, Brendan Moore
Defenders (10): George Bello, George Campbell, Edgar Castillo, Franco Escobar, Jon Gallagher, Brooks Lennon, Fernando Meza, Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes, Laurence Wyke.
Midfielders (11): Mo Adams, Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton**, Manuel Castro, Jürgen Damm, Emerson Hyndman, Jeff Larentowicz, Jake Mulraney, Eric Remedi, Matheus Rossetto, Tyler Wolff.
Forwards (5): Adam Jahn, Lagos Kunga*, Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, Erick “Cubo” Torres, JJ Williams.
* - on loan with Phoenix Rising
** - on loan with Indy Eleven