In this week’s prospects recap, we look at the academy’s results from the previous weekend, as two more of Atlanta’s youth teams concluded their DA schedule. We also have a preview of the U18’s next match, which will be a different sort of challenge for United’s young stars.
U13 and U14 Seasons Come to an End
Atlanta United’s younger academy teams concluded their Development Academy seasons this past weekend, contesting a double header against Georgia United and Triangle FC Alliance.
After losing the first two meetings of the year against Georgia United, Atlanta United’s U14’s got one over on their local foes with a 2-1 win. Parker Smith and Chase Oliver scored at either end of the first half and the team was able to hold on for the victory against a very talented opponent. On Sunday against TFC Alliance, Oliver scored a second-half hat-trick off the bench as the U14’s came away with a 6-0 victory after a scoreless first half. Anthony Reaves, Jide Awujo and Emerson Chavez tallied the other three goals in the match. The U13’s had a tougher weekend, losing 4-1 to Georgia United and 3-2 to TFC. Emmanuel Gyasi, Alejandro DeVillena and Yahir Paez chipped in with goals for the squad. The U13’s have had a difficult second half of the season, finishing the year winless in their last ten matches.
A couple of difference makers over the weekend for the U14’s were two players playing up an age group from the U13’s: defender Micah Worton and goalkeeper Vicente Reyes. Worton has been with the U14’s most weekends since January, starting most of their games at center back. Reyes hasn’t played much with this group, but he got the majority of minutes in net this past weekend and was very influential in securing both victories. Both players are on US Soccer’s radar already, having both recieved call-ups to U14 National team training camps over the past six months. It’s very difficult to predict anything about the future of players who are this young, but both Worton and Reyes are proving themselves against older competition and are certainly names to keep track of in the future.
US Soccer does not officially keep results or standings for these age groups, with the focus being solely on player development. The U13 season is now over, while the U14’s still have the Development Academy Summer Showcase on the horizon. In this event, they will be matched up against other U14 teams from around the country that they don’t otherwise get to play against. The Showcase will take place alongside the Development Academy playoffs from June 20th-26th in Westfield, Indiana.
Unique Challenge Coming for the U18’s
Atlanta United’s U18 team has been nothing short of spectacular this season. They have already wrapped up the DA’s Southeast Division title, they still hold the best record in the entire country at 23-2-5, and they have claimed victories over some of MLS’s academy royalty. Now, this Saturday, they will head to Birmingham, Alabama for a friendly against NPSL club Birmingham Hammers.
The Hammers, an amateur club founded back in 2013, joined NPSL’s Southeast Division last year. This season, they have started the year with a big 2-1 victory in Atlanta against the Silverbacks, a 1-1 draw against a talented Inter Nashville side, and are coming off of a match in Chattanooga that was suspended due to weather after 21 minutes. The Hammers’ roster is mostly made up of players currently playing in college, with many of them coming from in-state schools such as UAB, West Alabama, and University of Montevallo. One of those in-state players is English center back Alex Brown, who has scored two of the team’s three goals thus far this season.
This match should provide Atlanta United’s youngsters with some unique experiences that they don’t often have in their games within the Development Academy. First off, they will be going up against players who are up to, in some cases, five years older than them. The U18’s are a big, athletic side, and they typically possess a physical advantage over their opponents. This won’t necessarily be the case this weekend, which should force them to utilize some of the more technical aspects of their game. Another unique factor in this match will be the stadium environment. The Hammers have a devoted supporters group called Magic City Brigade who will be out in full force on Saturday. While the academy plays plenty of road games, nearly all of them take place in front of mostly family members and scouts. Dealing with opposing active supporters is not something this team is used to, and it will be an interesting challenge for them to overcome.
The match kicks off this Saturday, May 27th at 7 pm central time. Tickets are available for purchase on the Hammers’ website and in person at the stadium. If you can’t make it to Birmingham on Saturday, the Hammers will be streaming the match live on their website. Head over to Birmingham this weekend to check out this interesting friendly and support the boys.