Atlanta United Academy graduate Machop Chol knows the definition of hard work. His dedication to the beautiful game has taken him from a local community center to the DDYSC Wolves to the Academy to Wake Forest University. On Jan.19, 2021, Chol signed a Homegrown contract with Atlanta United to begin the next step in his soccer career.
“The only goal for my future is to play at the next level and to excel,” Chol stated with conviction.
As much as he is looking forward to this new phase as a professional, Chol understands the value of looking back and remembering how he got here. Every step helped build his confidence as a player while also helping him grow and develop as a person.
“I played for my local YMCA for years prior to coming to the Academy and that is where I met lifelong friends and developed a bit as a footballer,” Chol declared. “It gave me the freedom and confidence I needed to be able to compete at the Academy level.”
He never lost sight of that confidence and was able to build on it further during his time at the Academy. The level of competition he faced with Atlanta United helped motivate him to play at the next level and continue to improve his game.
“With the level of competition, it taught me that I had to work and earn every minute on the field,” Chol remembered. “I was also fortunate to learn and get to play against the first team players. It gave me the motivation to go to school and develop as a player if I ever want to compete with those guys.”
The Academy gave him a platform to continue his soccer career while also giving him unbelievable memories. Even as his game developed, he never took any of his experiences for granted.
“My favorite memory with the Academy was playing in the playoffs and being able to wear the same kit as the first team,” Chol continued. “It was surreal for me to think last year I was playing for the YMCA and now I’ll be lining up against other MLS academies.”
Chol scored 11 goals with a shot percentage of 90.0 during his time on the Atlanta United U-17/18 team in 2016 that helped him land at Wake Forest. In his freshman year, Chol came off the bench and scored a goal in his first collegiate game. After a breakout sophomore season in which he scored five goals and added seven assists and a junior season that saw him capitalize on his previous success with a team-high eight assists, Chol is ready to make his mark with Atlanta United.
As he prepares for the next stage in his career, he always carries with him his love for the game. Helping him stay grounded and hungry is a passion for the game he first fell in love with at 2 years old.
“My family is from South Sudan. We moved to America in 2000 and settled in Clarkston, Georgia, which is home to many refugees,” Chol explained. “That is where I found my passion for the game and where I kicked a ball for the first time.”
Staying true to his roots, Chol recognizes the value of academies and wants the next generation to have the same chances to succeed that he did.
“For the current guys in the Academy, the only advice I would give them is to be brave and be hungry,” Chol shared. “Another big piece of advice is to trust the process.”
Chol has trusted the process all the way to signing a Homegrown contract with Atlanta United. A dream come true for the Academy graduate, Chol knows his success wouldn’t be possible without his friends and family who have supported him throughout his career.
“It means everything to sign with Atlanta United. Not only for me, but my family, friends and the people in the city I grew up playing in,” Chol explained. “I’ve been dreaming about playing for this club since I first started with the Academy. I looked up to many of the players on the first team and thought maybe one day that could be me.”
As Chol achieved his dream to sign with Atlanta United, a new dream took its place: to play in front of the 17s. Chol is ready to work and make this a memorable year for Atlanta United.