Before we begin, allow me to introduce myself. I’m atlutdprospects, and starting this week, I’ll be writing a weekly post for Dirty South Soccer keeping Atlanta United fans up to date with the accomplishments of the club’s academy and youth players. This week, we look back at the recent Generation adidas Cup, profile a couple of new players, and take a look at the upcoming U17 World Cup Qualifying tournament.
Generation adidas Cup Recap
This past week was the 2017 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, TX, which is a U17 tournament that pits MLS academies against some of the best youth academies from the rest of the world. Atlanta United’s U17 team began qualifying for this event back in October, going 4-1-1 and finishing atop a group containing the other six MLS clubs on the Eastern seaboard. That qualified them for the Champions Division, in which they were drawn in a 4-team group with Colorado Rapids, River Plate of Argentina, and Spanish club Malaga CF. The U17’s finished 3rd in the group, going 0-2-1 with a penalties victory over the Rapids. In the consolation round, Atlanta United were paired with the U17’s of current Champions League-holders Real Madrid, where the team suffered a 2-0 defeat. They concluded the tournament with a penalties defeat against LigaMX’s Xolos de Tijuana, ultimately leaving the U17’s with a 12th place finish out of 16 teams. Getting an opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the world’s best provided very valuable experience for the young academy players as they continue their development.
A grand total of 34 matches in the tournament were streamed live on YouTube by MLS, including Atlanta United’s GA Cup matches against River Plate and Real Madrid. Both matches pitted United against some of the best competition they have seen all year, and while neither resulted in a win, both were end-to-end, highly competitive affairs. Ultimately, River Plate won the competition for the 3rd year in a row, beating Brazilian giants Flamengo 2-1 in the final.
Annan on match v RP: These are the games that make our players better, and where mistakes are punished. Proud of the boys and the effort.— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) April 8, 2017
The Generation adidas Cup also includes a U12 bracket, a 7v7 tournament for players born after January 1, 2005. Atlanta United sent 12 young players, including 5 from their own academy, to play against other MLS clubs and some international competition. The U12’s won 3 of their 6 matches over the weekend, including two wins on Saturday against Columbus Crew and New England Revolution.
New and Returning Faces
Typically, MLS clubs bring a couple of guest players from outside of the youth academy with them to the GA Cup; Atlanta United rostered two such players, Raul Tinoco and Jesus “Chuchu” Sahagun.
Raul Tinoco is a 17-year old from Doraville who typically plays a starring role for his National League team at United Futbol Academy and for Lakeside High School. If the name sounds familiar to Atlanta United fans, it’s likely because Raul’s twin brother, Saul Tinoco, is a regular for the U16 academy team, with 23 appearances and 9 goals in league play this season. Raul provided cover for the GA Cup team at right back and midfield. Sahagun is a 17-year old central midfielder from Miami. The former Weston FC star is ranked in the top-100 players for the class of 2018 by TopDrawerSoccer, and has spent time with Malaga and with the Venezuelan U17 national team in the past year. It will be very interesting to see if either of these players play a role with the youth academy going forward.
Also appearing for the U17’s in the GA Cup was Charlie Asensio. The highly-rated youngster has been away with the U17 National team residency in Bradenton, FL for nearly the entire academy season. Asensio was deployed in a variety of positions throughout the tournament, including center back, left back and defensive midfield.
The 2017 U17 CONCACAF Championship kicks off this Friday in Panama and runs through Sunday, May 7th. This tournament doubles as qualifying for the U17 World Cup in India later this year, and it features a heavy representation from Atlanta United. First-teamers Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin will be joined on the United States’ roster by academy player Zyen Jones, who has also been with the U17 residency program for the past year. Joining the USA in Group C is Jamaica, whose roster will likely feature academy players Kendall Edwards and Blake White. Edwards, a center back, was the youngest player to join Tata Martino and the first team in Bradenton for preseason training camp, while White has been playing up with the U18 academy team for the second half of the season. Finally, Honduras also features an Atlanta United academy player, U16 fullback Alexander Bahr. Bahr has only appeared 7 times for the academy this season and has been in Honduras since January preparing for this tournament.
Meanwhile, the Development Academy regular season restarts for Atlanta United this weekend in Charlotte, NC. The U13’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s will take on Charlotte Soccer Academy on Saturday and Carolina Rapids on Sunday. With just seven games remaining in the season, the older teams are both looking to remain atop the standings in the Southeast Division.