This week in the prospects recap, we get you caught up on the academy’s results from the past weekend, we put a bow on U17 World Cup Qualifying, and we preview what promises to be one of the best academy matches of the entire season.
A Strong Showing in East Point
All of Atlanta United’s academy teams made the short trip from Marietta down to Georgia Soccer Park near East Point this past Saturday to take on local opponents Concorde Fire. Over five hours of soccer, six matches took place, with United’s youngsters coming out on top in five of them.
The U18’s defeated Concorde 3-0 to take their 5th consecutive victory, stretching their unbeaten run to 9 games. After a scoreless first half, Patrick Okonkwo broke the deadlock on the hour mark. Laurent Kissiedou added a second nine minutes later before Okonkwo completed his brace, scoring his 6th goal in his last 3 matches. The win means the U18’s once again possess the Development Academy’s best record, a remarkable 21-2-5 on the season.
For the U16’s, Kendall Edwards, Blake White and George Bello all returned to Atlanta United’s academy setup from their respective national team duties, and all three were slotted into Tony Annan’s starting eleven. After Liam Butts opened the scoring 3 minutes in, Concorde was able to hang with the visitors for most of the match. However, United’s strength was too much as White, Jackson Conway and Dawson Gideon each scored in the final 15 minutes, earning a 4-0 victory.
For the younger teams, Atlanta United fared somewhat better than in the past against their local foes. The U14’s found goals from six different players in a 7-0 win, including a double from leading scorer Parker Smith. In the U13 game, Concorde’s Aldo Campos and Caelin David helped overturn an early goal from United’s Balmore Cruz-Quinones in a 2-1 Concorde win. Both U12 matches went the way of United by scorelines of 3-1 and 6-3. With this year’s meetings in the books, both academies can now look forward to continuing their healthy competition with one another next season.
Heartbreak for the US U17’s in Panama
CONCACAF’s U17 World Cup Qualifying came to a conclusion this past Sunday down in Panama City, with Mexico coming out victorious over the US in the tournament final in a 5-4 penalty shootout. Despite the disappointing end to the tournament, the young Americans put on a show, with Atlanta United’s members of the squad contributing plenty to the effort. Homegrown player Andrew Carleton added to his two assists and array of slick dribbling skills with arguably the goal of the tournament against Cuba. He then followed it up with a sweet volleyed strike in the final against the Mexicans, which, at the time, gave the US the lead.
Academy forward Zyen Jones marked his second appearance of the tournament with his second goal, finishing neatly from a low cross in the Americans’ 6-2 win over Cuba. Chris Goslin didn’t end up on the scoresheet in Panama but put in steady midfield performances throughout the competition, earning praise from the likes of MLSsoccer.com’s Matt Doyle.
Goslin's re-press is lightning quick. Kid has awareness beyond his years.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 3, 2017
Despite a 3-0 loss to the US last Wednesday, Honduras booked their ticket to the U17 World Cup in India, joining the US, Mexico and Costa Rica. Academy player Alex Bahr started every game of the tournament at center back, playing all but 12 minutes for Los Catrachos.
Massive U18 Showdown in Marietta
This weekend, Atlanta United’s academy welcomes two more North Carolina-based foes to the training center. The U13’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s will take on the Capital Area Railhawks on Saturday and North Carolina Fusion on Sunday.
This week, the focus is specifically on Saturday’s U18 match, which kicks off at 10 am. The Railhawks are the professional academy of NASL’s North Carolina FC (the academy’s re-brand is coming this summer). Their U18’s are currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation and are the highest-scoring team in the country, with 97 goals in 28 matches. They are led by the prolific striking duo of Alex Rose and Lucas Del Rosario, who have combined for a stunning 53 goals just between themselves this season. Both Rose and Del Rosario are among TopDrawerSoccer’s top 25 players for the class of 2017, both are committed to the University of North Carolina, and both are US Youth National Team regulars. They are joined in the attack by winger Manny Perez, an NSCAA All-American who just recently helped the US U18’s to a runner-up finish at the Slovakia Cup. Combined with Atlanta United’s Okonkwo, Lagos Kunga, Mike Ille and Machop Chol, Saturday’s game will feature a collection of some of the nation’s brightest young attacking talent.
Both previous meetings between these two sides produced goals; the teams played to a 3-3 draw in October, and United earned a thrilling 3-2 win in Cary, NC back in March. I will be out at the training center Saturday morning to take in what should be a thrilling, high-level affair, and I would encourage any one else to do the same.