Atlanta United’s academy spent the weekend in the Tampa Bay area and came up with a mixed bag of results. In the prospects recap, we tell you all about it, look at some young Five Stripes making imprints around the world, and preview this weekend’s matches against some local opponents.
Positives and Negatives from Florida
The U19’s, U17’s and U15’s all took a trip down South last weekend with matches in Bradenton against IMG Academy and in Clearwater against Chargers SC. The U19’s came away with two draws in two games, 1-1 against IMG and 2-2 against the Chargers. United’s U19’s are still shorthanded while many of its players fulfill national team commitments, but others have stepped up in their place. Ben Davies and Clayton Dawes, both new to the academy, have been a big part of the back line thus far, and fellow newcomer Kashay Sahlu has been a nice addition in midfield. They’ve also been getting help from their younger counterparts. U17 winger Liam Butts played up with the U19’s on Saturday and scored the game’s only goal.
The U17’s maintained their perfect start to the new season with a pair of comfortable wins, 6-1 over IMG Academy and 3-0 against Chargers. The team has outscored their opponents 18-2 through four matches, all of them victories by 3 goals or more. Five of those 18 goals belong to winger Edson Candela-Perez, who had a brace on Saturday at IMG. Striker Fabian Rivas tallied in both weekend matches to get off the mark on the season, as did right back Natneal McDonald. The fullback surprisingly has scored four times already this year after scoring just once in 33 appearances for the U16’s a year ago.
The U15’s knocked off IMG 4-1 on Saturday thanks to goals from Corey Hart, Brandon Manzanarez, Balmore Cruz and Bryce McMillen. Aldo Campos gave the 2003’s an early lead on Sunday against the Chargers, but the team was unable to hold on, losing 2-1.
National Team Involvement Ramps Up
Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Justin Garces and the rest of the US U17 World Cup team are on their way to India, first stopping in Dubai to train and prepare for their first match against the host nation in ten days time. Before the team left, they said goodbye to Bradenton, Florida and the campus of IMG Academy, where the majority of these players have been living and training for the better part of two years. While they may not be apart of the World Cup team, Atlanta United’s George Bello and Will Crain were part of the farewell ceremonies, which included a visit from the youth national teams’ biggest fans, the American Outlaws chapter in St. Petersburg.
While the U17’s are preparing for their World Cup run, US Soccer is busy trying to identify the next group of youth national team stars through their Youth National Team Training Centers. The program is making its first stop of the year in the Atlanta area this Thursday, conducting training sessions for boys born between the years 2002 and 2004. Many Atlanta United academy players from each age bracket will be involved, and the academy training staff will also be out in full force to watch their kids in action as well as scout some of the other young talents called in from around the metro area.
Finally, one Five Stripes youngster has been making a name for himself over in Europe this week: U16 midfielder Josh Francombe. Francombe was called into the Wales U16’s as the team prepares to contest the Victory Shield, a tournament involving the U16 squads of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Welsh lads spent the week playing two friendlies against Gibraltar, winning 6-0 and 5-0 respectively. After appearing off the bench in the first game, Francombe started the second and picked up three assists in the Welsh victory.
“ATL Derby” Weekend is Here
This Saturday will bring the first of three meetings this season between Atlanta United’s academy and local youth powerhouse Concorde Fire. Georgia United and Concorde used to be the state’s only two Development Academy clubs and matches between them earned the “ATL Derby” moniker, and when Atlanta United came in, the name continued to stick. Saturday will see the U12’s, 13’s, 14’s, 15’s, 17’s and 19’s all face off at the CHOA Training Ground in Marietta. Concorde have started the season off brightly in every age group, so it should be quite a competitive battle between two quality programs.
This year, there’s a new wrinkle to these derby weekends: the presence of another Atlanta-area club at the older age groups. United Futbol Academy now plays in every DA age group up besides U19, and they will get their first crack at Atlanta United on Sunday at Fowler Park in Forsyth County. Tons of young talent will be on display on both days, so try and make it out to get a glimpse of it all.