The young players of the Atlanta United academy continue to soldier on their development path as we enter the month of November. In this week’s prospects recap, we look at the results from another Development Academy weekend, and we check in on some of the academy’s former players closing out their freshman seasons in college.
First Meetings with Pro Clubs
It was an interesting weekend for the academy, as the U17’s and U15’s welcomed a couple of other professional clubs to the Training Ground in Marietta for the first time. Saturday saw both sides take on the Jacksonville Armada, and the U15’s also faced Tampa Bay United Rowdies on Sunday.
The U17’s got their ninth win in eleven games in the regular season with a 2-0 victory against the Armada. With the U19’s getting the weekend off, 15-year old George Bello stepped into the U17 starting eleven and marked the occasion with a goal in the first half. Jackson Conway then scored his seventh of the year in the second half to secure the win. The U15’s also defeated the Armada 3-0 behind goals from Kobey Stoup, Owen Barber and Aldo Campos. Stoup found himself on the score-sheet again on Sunday in a 3-3 draw with TBU Rowdies. Joseph Collins and Bryce McMillen scored the first two goals of the back and forth affair. The Montgomery-native Stoup was one of the more highly regarded players in this team coming into the season, and so far the young midfielder is nicely living up to those expectations.
The U13’s and U14’s were also in action at nearby Allen Creek Soccer Complex in Gainesville against Lanier SA. The U14’s won 6-2 with Mateo Bargagna picking up a hat-trick, which comes after the exciting young winger scored twice in the clubs’ first meeting earlier this fall. The U13’s won 7-0 behind braces from striking duo Danial Sebhatu and Chance Gray, who both brought their season goal total to 12. Leading scorer Jonathan Villal also notched his 15th goal of the year and 11th in his last 5 matches.
Washington Earns All Big-Ten Honors
The college soccer regular season is a furious two-and-a half-month whirlwind of matches one after another, and for many former Atlanta United academy players, their freshman season is winding down. For Five Stripe alumni Bryce Washington, the end of the year has brought a post season honor, as the Rutgers center back was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team this past week.
The nomination was a deserved reward for Washington after what’s been an impressive start to his collegiate career. With Atlanta United a year ago, Washington led the U18’s in games started and developed a reputation as an athletic yet composed defender with a bright future ahead of him. This season, Washington walked into the starting XI of a Rutgers team that won just one match in 2016 and brought that calming presence to the Scarlet Knights back four, starting every match and playing all but just a few minutes of the season. While the on-field results were not much better for Rutgers in 2017 (the team was still win-less in the Big Ten), Washington will be a key cog in the team’s rebuild and could be a player to watch for Atlanta United’s first team in the future.
Meanwhile, Mercer’s Kareve Richards and Georgia Southern’s Aldair Cortes continue to prove themselves as every game starters as their teams begin their respective conference tournaments. Mercer are through to the semifinals of the Southern Conference after knocking off Wofford 2-1 on Saturday, while Southern will take on Appalachian State in their Sun Belt tournament opener this Thursday. Neither conference has announced their end of season awards yet, but with both Richards and Cortes in the top five in minutes played on their respective squads, both could be set to receive some honors soon as well.
Finally, former Five Stripe Machop Chol has been slowly forcing his way into the rotation for the NCAA’s number one team, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Chol has played in 11 of Wake’s 17 matches this season, including each of the last six contests. He played 25 minutes off the bench in Wake’s 3-0 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, a sign that coach Bobby Muuss is putting more trust in the freshman winger in big matches. Chol’s role should expand further in 2018 with three of Wake’s most important attacking players graduating, so he’ll be a player to keep an eye on going forward as well.
Taking a Trip to Miami
The academy is getting set for one of their more challenging weekends of the season as they head to the Miami area for matches against Kendall SC and Weston FC. Miami is one of American soccer’s most rich talent hot-beds, and depsite no MLS academy calling the city home (yet), Kendall and Weston have long carried the mantle for the city’s development of young soccer stars. Both clubs have a better track record of producing professionals than most MLS clubs, and former Kendall and Weston players can increasingly be found in MLS academies across the country searching for an avenue to the pros.
A particularly prominent former Kendall SC player can now be found in Atlanta United’s youth system: goalkeeper Justin Garces. Garces grew up playing for Kendall and has previously credited the coaches there for not only getting him started on the path of being a goalkeeper, but for aiding him in all the progress he’s made in his development so far. Now that the U-17 World Cup is over, Garces could be in line to make his Atlanta United academy debut this weekend against his former club in the city he’s called home pretty much up until now.