The Atlanta United academy notched 13 wins in 13 games over the weekend, and that’s not the only excitement the club’s youngsters have provided over the last few days. As always, we’re here to tell you about it in the prospects recap, as well as preview another derby weekend coming up soon.
First Perfect Weekend of the Season for the Academy
Atlanta United’s academy welcomed two North Carolina-based academies to the training facility over the weekend: NASL’s North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Fusion. United won all ten matches against the two sides, both of whom represent some of the better competition in the Development Academy’s Southeast Division.
The U19’s came from behind twice against the Fusion on Saturday to win 4-3. First half goals from Blake White and Dawson Gideon were canceled out early in the second period before George Bello and James Brighton struck to regain the lead for the Five Stripes. Against a strong NCFC team on Sunday, the 19’s won 5-0 with Chad Letts bagging a brace and Brighton, Gideon and Zyen Jones all on the score sheet as well. The U17’s won 3-0 against Fusion behind a brace from midfielder Remi Smith, then notched a 4-0 victory against NCFC on Sunday.
A common theme for the academy this weekend, particularly against Fusion on Saturday, was players playing above their respective age groups. U16’s Josh Francombe, Jackson Wrobel and Juan Zuniga all started for the U17’s against Fusion, with teammates Kijana Banks, Brandon Clagette and Jordan Matthews coming off the bench. U14 standouts Mateo Bargagna, Jose De Avila and Rohan Blackwell were also brought up to the U15’s on Saturday. Mateo ended up on the scoresheet for both the U14’s and the U15’s over the weekend, while his older brother Valentin nabbed the winning goal in the U15’s 4-3 win against Fusion.
In ADASL play, the U16’s made it a perfect 3 wins from 3 to start the season schedule with a 2-1 victory against Hudson FC with goals from the aforementioned Matthews and Bryant Jackson. Meanwhile, the U12’s won both of their DA contests against Concorde Fire, making it a perfect 13 for 13 for United’s academy this weekend.
Carleton Showing Off in India
Following the pain and anguish of the events last week in Trinidad and Tobago, a lot of US Soccer fans’ attention has turned to the U17’s at the World Cup in India, desperately looking for a pick-me-up. While it may or may not be fair to put that kind of pressure on a bunch of 16 and 17-year olds, the boys are delivering so far, most recently punching their ticket to the quarterfinals with Monday’s 5-0 demolition of Group B Winners Paraguay.
Paris St. Germain forward Tim Weah had a hat-trick to steal the headlines for the USA, but Atlanta United’s Andrew Carleton drew equally rave reviews for his performance. Carleton played his best match of the competition, scoring his second goal of the tournament and picking up his second and third assists. The 17 year-old from Powder Springs was so good that, with the proper EDM track in the background, you could almost pass off FIFA’s official match highlights as Carleton’s own YouTube mix-tape.
After starting in a familiar wing role in the final two group games, coach John Hackworth returned Carleton to the center of the pitch against the Paraguayans, the same role he struggled in against India in the opening match. Paraguay gave the American #11 more time and space to operate than the Indians did, and Carleton made them pay for it. Even on the goals he didn’t score or assist, he was instrumental in the build-up, first with an incisive through-ball to Ayo Akinola on the opener, then with this clever back-heel to Indiana Vassilev to start the move that ended with Weah’s second.
Here's the build-up to the Weah goal. Carleton's layoff to Vassilev creates the space and time to make that pass. pic.twitter.com/LeteWnGxuj— J.R. Eskilson (@JREskilson) October 16, 2017
Fellow United youngsters Chris Goslin and Justin Garces continue to be important parts of the U17’s success. Garces kept his third clean sheet in four matches on Monday, bouncing back from a shaky performance last time out against Colombia. Goslin was again tasked with a defensive midfield role against Paraguay as Chris Durkin shifted to the back line, and again delivered with a solid 90 minute shift. Goslin has played nearly every minute of the tournament for the US, but the team will have to cope without him in the quarterfinals after he picked up a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Academy players Alessandro Castro and Alex Bahr are also still in the tournament with the Honduras U17’s. Los Catrachos beat New Caledonia 5-0 before ending the group stage with a 5-1 loss to France. Both Castro and Bahr have seen on-field action for Honduras, who will line up against Brazil in the Round of 16 on Wednesday. The US won’t be back in action until Saturday’s quarterfinal, where they will take on the winner of England and Japan.
Purple Lions Come to Town
The U15’s, U17’s and U19’s will each be hosting two more Development Academy matches this weekend at the CHOA Training Ground, first against Orlando City on Saturday followed by Boca United on Sunday.
Orlando City is the only other MLS opponent in the DA’s Southeast region and represents a great early-season opportunity for Atlanta’s academy teams to test themselves against a strong opponent. The two academies met five times last season with United winning four of those matches, but this meeting will be the first between the clubs since the first teams squared off three times over the summer. Those first-team match-ups were all close games full of passion and intensity, and those results helped fuel a growing animosity between the supporters of each club. There’s still plenty of disagreement as to whether Atlanta-Orlando constitutes a ‘rivalry,’ but both sets of fans will likely have one eye on what happens in Marietta this Saturday.
The U12’s, U13’s and U14’s will also be in action again next weekend at McCurry Park in Fayetteville to play against local club AFC Lightning. Whether you’re on the north or south side of the city, try and get out to support the academy this weekend.