While winning is not the most important thing in the Atlanta United academy, it does help shape the culture of success that the club is seeking to cultivate. Four of United’s youth teams completed an undefeated road trip to North Carolina over the weekend, with the U16’s and U18’s winning both of their matches on the trip.
Academy manager Tony Annan told Dirty South Soccer:
"It's exciting. It's good to get going. It's good to get on the field. This weekend's games brings a lot of excitement for us, the coaching staff. It's good to see the kids finally in uniforms playing for their club. It's an exciting time. Lots of work to do, but very excited to get moving and get the season underway."
The senior academy squad, the U18’s, won 4-0 over the Carolina Rapids on Saturday and 1-0 over Charlotte Soccer Academy on Sunday. Goalkeepers Samuel Morton and Russell Shealy each posted a shutout. Center back Bryce Washington was cited by Annan for a strong weekend, saying he had “a good beginning.”
Five different goalscorers found their way to the scoresheet. Saturday’s win saw goals from Lagos Kunga, Adeola Oke, Cheik Fofana, and Victor Pereyra-Zavala. Sunday’s game winner was scored by Patrick Okonkwo. Forward Machop Chol, while not scoring, was also cited by Annan as doing “very well.”
Here’s Okonkwo’s goal from Sunday:
The U16’s also notched two wins, posting a 3-1 win over the Carolina Rapids and a 2-1 win over the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Annan is the head coach for the U16’s and said this about their performance:
"The U-16's did really well on Saturday. It's tough to play two games back-to-back on turf in 90 degree heat. But, yesterday they came out really strong and did some great stuff. They're starting to mold, but it's going a while for kids from all over the city from all different coaching backgrounds to gel. I'm pretty pleased with the performances but there's a lot still to do."
Saturday’s win saw goals from George Bello, James Brighton, and Dawson Gideon. On Sunday, Brighton and Dylan Gaither found the back of the net. Midfielder Alessandro Castro was also mentioned by Annan as one of the team’s stronger performers over the weekend.
The U14’s notched two draws on the trip. Jackson Wrobel and Jide Awujo scored in the 2-2 draw against the Carolina Rapids on Saturday, while Sunday’s game in Charlotte finished 0-0. Regarding the U14’s Annan told Dirty South Soccer:
"I'm pretty pleased with the 14's as well, some good promise. The results are not as important at that age, but they played well and played some good stuff. But they're in the same boat. We're trying to bring all these kids together to play the same way. It's going to be a challenge, but that's where we're here."
The U13’s posted a win and a draw on the trip. Goals were scored by Valentin Bargangna and Haris Osmanbasic on Saturday in a 2-2 draw against the Carolina Rapids. Akinni James scored twice and Michael Barrueta scored once in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Charlotte Soccer Academy.
The U12’s split their local matches with the North Atlanta Soccer Association on Saturday. One squad lost 3-2, the other won 6-2.
Next weekend, the U12’s play on Saturday against Concorde Fire at Georgia Soccer Park at 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The U13’s and U14’s host the Triangle Futbol Club Alliance from North Carolina at Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus. The U14’s play at 12:00 p.m., the U13’s play at 2:30 p.m. The U16’s and U18’s are off next weekend.