Andrew Carleton is legit
I keep trying to tell myself to calm down, that we don’t need to depend on him, that he should use his first year as a pro to learn and develop physically and learn the speed of the game. After all, other kids his age are just getting their first jobs as well (albeit PART TIME) as grocery clerks or burger flippers. Surely there’s an adjustment period that has to happen.
But damn if he doesn’t look like he belongs. He just took the field amongst men and didn’t just “fit in,” he was the best player on the field. His first touch all night ways incredibly impressive, which is, in my opinion, the most important technical quality a player can possess. It allowed him to maneuver through tight spaces and create chances out of what seemed like nothing.
How to impress Tata pic.twitter.com/RmXcQEU2bm— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) February 26, 2017
That touch though @andrewcarleton7 pic.twitter.com/jBWRq0T2Cj— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) February 26, 2017
#ATLUTD on #ATLUTD violence pic.twitter.com/4yi7Oy0BRb— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) February 26, 2017
I think he’s as good as I think he is. Let me explain that. I’ve thought of him as a quality player since I’ve seen him play (which admittedly isn’t long – I mean he’s 16). But when Atlanta United announced his signing last year, I didn’t assume that he would be a contributor. It was more of “Nice, we have a great talent that we can nurture, and he’ll blossom in a year or two.” But today, I’m changing my thinking. Like Christian Pulisic for the USMNT, if he’s got the talent, don’t deny him the opportunity. I think AC will and should see regular game time, whether it is as a starter or a sub. Sure there will be ebbs and flows, but he has skills that will help this team this season.
The pecking order is set
If there was any question coming into the game where players stack up when it comes to their place in the team, it seems pretty clear now. The players Tata has selected to start the first three preseason games has been relatively consistent, and there’s no reason to think there will be much change. I’d even think at this point that Jeff Larentowicz will start over Carlos Carmona as the most defensive of the midfield trio (though Carmona will take over eventually).
The main question to me at this point among the starters is whether Kenwyne starts or not. Josef Martinez is not going to come off the bench on March 5, so if Kenwyne starts, that means you’re looking at Brandon Vazquez (who has disappointed in his preseason minutes) as the bench striker. Additionally, if Kenwyne starts, you’re bumping Yamil Asad out of the starting XI. Admittedly, I was an Asad skeptic coming into preseason, but you can’t deny his productivity. I still think he takes a few too many touches, but we’ve seen some undeniable moments of quality from him over the last two weeks.
We are ready to go
What a week it’s been – three matches, an incredible TV Broadcast announcement, and even an AUFC TV show that we didn’t even know was coming. Incredible. Add that to the general excitement that is starting to build around town – it’s just incredible and what we’ve all been waiting for. I have people asking me about the team who never would have cared about soccer before, which is always cool to see. I’m just happy we have a team with real quality that can challenge to win things from day one. We are very lucky to have ownership we do, the boardroom leadership we do, the players we do and the fans we do. It’s a long season and there will be ups and downs, but here’s to hoping this team makes us proud.