What a day for Atlanta United. A 4-0 win over Chattanooga FC was just a mere footnote on an amazing afternoon that featured over 12,000 fans attending a preseason friendly. The day was a culmination of over two years of building a team from complete scratch.
For Powder Springs native Andrew Carleton, this a moment he’s been waiting for since hearing about the announcement of the MLS Atlanta expansion bid succeeding while riding to soccer practice one afternoon.
From a little boy’s dream to a young man’s reality, Carleton started the second half in Chattanooga and was one of the brightest players on the field. Even at just 16 years of age, the quality he possesses is obvious as soon as he takes a touch. A few seconds later he’s blazing past a defender or passing and moving like a seasoned pro.
Twenty minutes into the club’s first ever Homegrown Player’s debut he was rewarded for his good work with a goal. It wasn’t a highlight reel worthy goal, as he simply tapped in a loose ball, but it was a moment that he’s dreamed about for years.
“It was a dream come true just to get on the field and be able to play. I was happy with how the team played and how I was able to perform and get on the score sheet and contribute to the team.”
After the goal, he promptly sprinted over to the hoard of Atlanta United fans stationed behind the goal and embraced them like a rock star diving into his adoring fans. A moment of pure ecstasy that was actually the brainchild of him and his fellow Atlanta United prodigy Chris Goslin. Carleton revealed post-match that the two came up with the idea while watching the first half on the bench.
“Chris Goslin and I were on the bench talking, ‘If you score you’re going to have to go in the crowd.’ We talked about it a little bit, but not much, and then it happened and the rush of adrenaline took over and I had to go do it.”
While it’s clear that this is only the beginning of a special career for Carleton, it’s a moment that will be remembered by all that lived or witnessed it. Who knows where the future will take the club and the uber-talented forward, but this moment will he etched in our minds for a long time.