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Martino: Carleton closer to first team than USL after strong preseason

The 17-year-old is proving why he’s so highly touted.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After Atlanta United’s 0-0 preseason finale draw with the Charleston Battery on Saturday, Tata Martino had some nice things to say about Andrew Carleton.

Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson after the match, Martino revealed that the 17-year-old attacker is closer to first team minutes than playing with the USL team after a couple of strong showings.

“He is still a young player and going through a development process, but the way he played tonight, and the way he’s played through the whole preseason, he’s put himself closer to the first team than the USL team.”

-Tata Martino; Source: AJC

While he didn’t get on the scoresheet in his handful of appearances he was dangerous and vibrant with nearly every touch of the ball. He may not walk right into the talent-laden Atlanta starting lineup, he’s slowly but surely working his way to becoming a vital squad player.

It’s possible that Carleton will still play some with the USL team, but look for the Powder Springs native to be an integral part of the first team’s bench to start the season. If he can take advantage of the chances he’s earned, perhaps we will see him in the starting lineup when the time calls for it.