Atlanta United and Orlando City wrote another chapter of their budding on-field history on Saturday when the academies of each club squared off for the first time this season. We’re here to tell you what happened, as well as wrap up the U-17 World Cup and preview the academy showcase event this weekend.
Orlando City Comes to Marietta
Atlanta United welcomed the only other MLS opponent in the DA’s Southeast region to the training ground on Saturday as the academy faced off against Orlando City. The U19’s, 17’s and 15’s each took on their southern neighbors in three highly-competitive, high level matches.
Atlanta’s lone victory of the day came in the U17 match by a 3-2 scoreline. Orlando scored twice in 3 minutes early in the second half to take a 2-0 lead, but a brace from Jackson Conway pulled United back level before substitute Ousman Jabang found a winner with four minutes to go. Conway has been on fire for the academy ever since the start of the season, scoring four goals in the Mexico City International Tournament, four in Generation adidas Cup qualifying and now six in the Development Academy. The U19’s also fell behind 2-0 against the Lions after Orlando tallied early in both halves. Unlike their younger counterparts, they could not make it back level despite a late goal from Dawson Gideon. The U15’s were beaten 1-0 by Orlando after conceding in the last five minutes of an otherwise intense match up.
OCSC was not the only academy opponent of the weekend, however, as Boca Raton-based club Boca United took on the Five Stripes on Sunday. The U19’s rebounded well form their first loss of the season by beating Boca 7-0. James Brighton had a brace to bring his scoring total to eight goals in nine games, while Jeremiah Luoma also bagged two goals in the victory. The U17’s, with a much-changed lineup from the Orlando victory, lost 2-1 to Boca despite another goal from the prolific Conway. The U15’s also trotted out a very different lineup to Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Boca, with U14’s Jose De Avila, Rohan Blackwell and Justin McLean all making their debut with the team.
National Team Commitments Beginning and Ending
Atlanta United’s collection of youngsters at the U-17 World Cup have all been eliminated at this point following the United States’ 4-1 loss in the quarterfinals to England. Andrew Carleton starred for the US, scoring two goals, picking up 3 assists, and constantly creating dangerous chances from either in the center or out wide. It was his work centrally that was the most eye-opening for United fans, who have really only seen him operate on the wing to this point. In the end, Carleton’s performances had pundits talking about him as a potential star both in MLS and abroad, and given how heavily-scouted the U-17 World Cup is, the young attacker probably caught the eye of some of the world’s biggest clubs.
Chris Goslin had a very good tournament as well, excelling both as a defensive midfielder and a box-to-box player when it was needed. Goslin was suspended for the quarterfinal, and as a result, the US was missing Goslin’s ability to disrupt counter-attacks when the team lost possession. England were able to break the USA’s defensive lines on several occasions and ended up earning a comfortable 4-1 victory. Goalkeeper Justin Garces kept clean sheets in three of five matches in India, but also made a couple of errors in the games the US lost. For each of the three players, teaching moments like those will be a benefit for them in the future, and all three have a bright future at Atlanta United and beyond.
Honduras’ tournament ended in the round of 16 with a 3-0 loss to Brazil. Alessandro Castro played in two of the four matches for Honduras, while Alex Bahr played in one. Garces and Castro will soon return to the academy setup to rejoin with the U19’s, while Bahr will join up with the U17’s. Meanwhile, U16 midfielder Josh Francombe is back with the Wales U16’s for the Victory Shield, which will take place this week. Francombe and his teammates battled out a draw against Scotland on Monday, with matches to come against Northern Ireland and Ireland this week.
04’s and 05’s Off to Showcase
The Development Academy doesn’t officially keep standings for the U13 and U14 age groups, but they do host multiple showcase events which allow the best teams in the nation to get a chance to play one another. The East Conference Showcase is taking place this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, and both Atlanta United’s U13 and U14 teams will be participating against some very high-level opponents.
In this showcase, teams play two shortened matches on Saturday as well as a full-length match on Sunday. The U14’s will play shortened games against FC Boston Bolts and DC United before playing Philadelphia Union on Sunday. The U13’s two short game opponents are Cedar Stars Academy and the New York Red Bulls, and they will take on DC United in the full-length match. Getting a chance to play other MLS clubs is a rare opportunity at this age since Atlanta United is the only MLS team in their region, so these games will be a valuable experience for the players involved. Both teams have been dominating their regional opponents this season, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up against some top competition this weekend.