Atlanta United’s academy is coming off of their busiest weekend of the new season against some excellent local opponents. This week, we’ll recap the weekend’s action, take a look at the U16’s upcoming campaign in a local adult league, and discuss another competition coming up soon for the academy.
Local Derby Weekend Results
Two other clubs in the Atlanta area have Development Academy teams in nearly every age group: Concorde Fire and United Futbol Academy. Atlanta United hosted Concorde at the training ground in Marietta on Saturday before paying UFA a visit on Sunday up in Forsyth County.
The U19’s needed two late goals from James Brighton and George Bello to earn a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Concorde. The opponents proved to be a tough out for the U19’s, especially due to the stellar play of their goalkeeper Berk Watson, but United managed to get the result in the end. The U19’s are slowly making their way back to full-strength with Bello, Zyen Jones and Charlie Asensio all playing together for the first time this season.
The U17’s also withstood a strong challenge from Concorde, eking out a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from midfielder Victor Delgado. That win earned Atlanta their 5th in five games to start the year, but their perfection was ended the next day by UFA in a 2-1 loss. UFA’s Simon Carlson scored two goals, both coming early in each half, and the U17’s were not able to recover. UFA also managed a 2-1 victory in the U14 game, capping off a strong showing from the Forsyth-based club and handing Atlanta United their first loss of the year at that age as well.
Two academy teams earned two victories against their local opponents: the U15’s and the U13’s. The 15’s beat Concorde 4-0 behind a brace from former Chattanooga FC youngster Joseph Collins, then got a hard-fought 2-1 win against UFA on Sunday. The U13’s won 5-0 and 2-0, respectively, continuing their dominant start to the season which has seen them outscore opponents by a combined 40-1 through six matches.
U16’s Kick off their ADASL Schedule
At a certain age, the Development Academy no longer uses single age-groups for their teams and starts to group multiple birth years together in the same team. The U17’s are actually the U16/17’s, a mix of birth years 2001 and 2002. This means that Atlanta United’s U16 team, made up entirely of 2002’s, there is not a Development Academy schedule for them to play. Instead, the squad has joined the Atlanta District Amateur Soccer League, better known as the ADASL.
The ADASL is Atlanta’s premier adult amateur league and brings a classic mix of high-level soccer and “Sunday League” stereotypes. The league’s current champion is Majestic SC, who are in the process of qualifying for the 2018 US Open Cup despite describing themselves as “a drinking team with a soccer problem.” The ADASL has been around for more than 50 years, and teams like Majestic, Arsenal Atlanta, and VaHi Athletic FC are institutions in it’s top division.
Atlanta United’s academy will play this year in the league’s second division, and they’re already off to a great start with a 6-2 win on Sunday against Arsenal Atlanta’s B team. Obviously, the academy kids will be playing routinely against adults, and competing against older, more physical players should be good experience for their continued development.
Generation adidas Cup Qualifying Returns
Over the course of two weekends, Atlanta United’s U17’s and U15’s will attempt to qualify for the Champions Division of the 2018 edition of the Generation adidas Cup tournament. This is the tournament that pits MLS academies up against some of the world’s top clubs in a week-long competition. The first qualifying matches for the East region will take place this coming weekend.
East region qualifying will be a round-robin between the seven MLS clubs that lie on the eastern seaboard. Atlanta United’s U17’s and U15’s will face Orlando City, DC United, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union, with the top 2 clubs moving on to take part in the Champions Division in the tournament next April. Last year, United went 4-1-1 in qualifying, good enough to top the East region, and ended up facing off against River Plate, Real Madrid, Malaga, and other high-quality opposition in the tournament. Academy director Tony Annan has said many times that these types of games are the ones he looks forward to the most due to the unique challenges they present for his squads, and the academy will have high expectations as they look to repeat the success of their inaugural qualifying campaign.