If you're like me, you probably just finished watching nine United States men's national team matches in the span of a month. They finished the Copa America in a respectable fourth place after losing their third match of the tournament. For anyone who pays attention to the USMNT, there's one thing that's blatantly obvious: The lack of creativity and ingenuity from it's player pool.
American players are famous for having great work rates, but we have produced very few that wow you with skills or trickery.
Atlanta United have signed one of the few American prospects who does possess such attributes. Andrew Carleton gave a video interview with FOX 5 while with Georgia United preparing for the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy playoffs. The interview was basically about him and the type of player he is, where he gave the confident quote of:
"I bring flair and excitement and I hope to bring smiles to the fans faces."
Unlike most American players, Carleton isn't afraid to take on defenders 1-v-1. Does he fail? Of course. But it's the confidence he possesses that allows him to keep going at them and beating them. It's a trait that most of the current national team pool severely lacks and it's what makes Carleton such a highly rated prospect.
There have been players like Carleton who have come through the ranks before. Some with much more "hype" surrounding them that have failed, mainly due to over-confidence. It's a fine line to walk as a soccer player. To have that confidence but also keep a level head, especially in America where everyone is hungry to find the next big thing.
There's no doubt that Carleton has a chance to be special. He might even have a chance to rep the USMNT himself in the future. But for now, Atlanta United's coaches will be tasked with helping him walk that line so he can live up to his potential instead of becoming another cautionary tale like so many before him.
Thankfully, United's technical director, Carlos Bocanegra was teammates on the USMNT with the most famous case American soccer has ever encountered of over-hype and over-confidence. His experience will be invaluable in handling those pressures of having and utilizing a top prospect.