The ultimate goal for most teams is to win. Even for new teams that are just starting to find their footing and are figuring out their own identity, a lot of emphasis is still put on eventually turning those first few steps into championships.
That’s why Atlanta United 2, along with eight other MLS reserve teams competing in USL, is such an anomaly. For them, it’s not just about winning. For head coach Scott Donnelly, it’s also about developing this team for Atlanta United’s own personal goal: a sustainable future.
“Part of our role is to support the first team. The artistry of this job is blending wins and development. We’re never going to look at just preparing week to week and just preparing game to game because that’s not ultimately the goal. On one hand, we have some competencies we want to hit with the players. On the other hand is preparing for the opponent and making sure we’re very competitive on gameday and making sure we’re winning games. Every week, it’s balancing to make sure we’re doing both those things.”
As for ATL UTD 2’s inaugural match against New York Red Bulls II, another reserve team that prides itself on developing their academy players, Donnelly’s mindset will not waver.
“The job is the same as it’s always been. The job is to compete well. The job is to give these guys experience and in-game minutes and see how they react in a game setting. The job is to push the guys to perform and a by-product of that is being competitive. Obviously we’d love to win, but as always, we keep it in balance with our larger objectives.”
Although this will be a different kind of fan experience than most professional sports teams typically have, it’s important for everyone involved to believe in the process and understand the ultimate goals of the club. Enjoy watching these players develop, and wins could follow.
Atlanta United 2 takes the field for the first time on Saturday, March 24 against New York Red Bulls II at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.