With the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championships taking place in Carson, California this weekend, the DA announced their annual season-long awards last night. Atlanta United’s Academy had a few players honored, most notably George Bello, who was named 2016-17 East Conference U15/16 Player of the Year.
For Bello, it’s a well-deserved honor after a tremendous season for Atlanta United’s U16’s. The 15-year old left-back has been an absolute terror down the flank throughout the season, consistently leaving his mark on matches with his speed and dribbling ability. He’s one of the leaders on the team when it comes to creating attacking chances, something that is increasingly important for modern fullbacks. Furthermore, Bello was born in 2002, meaning he’s been playing against kids two years older than him in many cases, which only makes this achievement more remarkable. Atlanta United’s brass has taken notice of his extraordinary talent by signing him to a Homegrown contract for 2018, and the youngster has given fans every reason to be excited for his future in the first team.
Bello’s player of the year award was accompanied by his inclusion in the East Conference U15/16 Best XI, while fellow Homegrown Lagos Kunga was joined in the Best XI for the U17/18 age group by his Atlanta United teammate, center-back Edwin Figueroa. U16 striker James Brighton also was awarded Goal of the Year for the East Conference for his bicycle-kick against IMG Academy back in September. You’ve probably seen it by now, but that’s no excuse to not watch it again (and again).
You can watch Bello, Brighton, Andrew Carleton and the rest of the U16’s in action tonight at 6 p.m. when they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in the DA Semifinals out in Carson. The match will be streamed by the USSDA’s Facebook page, so be sure to tune in and root the young guys on to a chance at a national title.