There were a ton of awesome moments during Atlanta United’s 4-1 win over Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. Perhaps the one with the biggest long-term significance is when 16-year-old Andrew Carleton stepped on the field for a late match run-out in the dying minutes. The highly-rated Powder Springs native finally made his MLS debut and the Bobby Dodd Stadium crowd did not let the moment pass. All 40,000+ in attendance rose to their feet to great the youngster as he came on for hat trick hero Miguel Almiron.
Carleton says that the moment was a dream come true.
“It was unbelievable. It was a dream come true to be able to make my first MLS appearance and to be able to just get on the field for a few minutes. It was an unbelievable feeling. I have been dreaming about this moment since I first started playing soccer so it was a dream come true.” — Andrew Carleton; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
When asked if he could hear the rapturous reception he drew from the Atlanta fans, he replied with a fantastic answer:
“They are little too loud to not here. I was just focused on getting in and doing my job but I of course heard them.”
Tata Martino had been ejected prior to the substitution for kicking a ball on the field of play after a possible elbow to Tito Villalba went unnoticed by the referee. However, he says he still had some hand in the decision to bring on the youngster and did so to get him in with little pressure on him.
“We put him on the bench because we are confident that he can provide us with his skill when we need an extra ‘winger’. Today, the game was already decided when we put him in, but we wanted to do it first to be able to give Miguel (Almirón) an applause for the great game that he played, and also since the game was already decided we could kind of take the pressure of Carleton’s debut. Now, he is debuted at 16 years of age and there is less of a demand and less pressure on him for that.” — Tata Martino; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
This is likely the first of many appearances for Carleton, but what a night to make your debut on. It’s one he’ll likely never forget. Congrats, Andrew.