Atlanta United made a special announcement at halftime of their clash with the Columbus Crew SC on Saturday.
Three Atlanta-area talents, Lagos Kunga, Patrick Okonkwo and George Bello, made the big step from the club’s academy to the first team. The three youngsters have signed their professional deals and will join the first team on January 1st, 2018 as MLS Homegrown Players.
Academy ➡️ First Team— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) June 18, 2017
@LAGOSKUNGA , @_patoblacks9, and George Bello have made their dream a reality. #UniteAndConquer pic.twitter.com/YSDL1TVlGi
George Bello is the youngest of the three, a 15-year old defender who hails from Douglasville, GA. Bello has appeared 20 appearances, including 19 starts, for the Atlanta United U16s this season.
Lagos Kunga is an 18-year old forward from Atlanta, who starred at the U-20 World Cup with the United States recently. He scored once in his four appearances at the tournament, helping his country to the quarter finals.
Patrick Okonkwo is also 18 and like his counterpart Kunga, he is a forward that has heavily impressed at the youth level. His 26 goals in 29 games for the Atlanta United U18s saw him finished third in USSDA for his age group.
The three players will continue with their academy teams throughout the playoffs but Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra spoke highly of the three, saying, “Each player has been the beneficiary of the continued integration between out First Team and Academy and they’ve proven they belong at this level.”
Clearly the three youngsters have shown tremendous promise and the coaches at Atlanta have high hopes for all of them in the future.
They won’t be featuring for the Five Stripes just yet but George Bello, Lagos Kunga and Patrick Onkonkwo are names to remember for the near future.