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Andrew Carleton seizes chance, regains confidence with first Atlanta United goal

It was a great night for the Homegrown player.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Charleston Battery vs Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Carleton’s talent is undeniable to all those who see him play. Unfortunately, his 2018 season hasn’t gone as smoothly as anyone had hoped. After a few first-team appearances to start the season, he’s been relegated to full-time ATL UTD 2 player for the majority of the opening three-plus months. At the USL level he hasn’t exactly shined, either.

Carleton lost some of his confidence that has made all the scouts drool during that time with the reserve team. That all changed on Wednesday night in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

It was a slow start for the 17-year-old on the night against the Charleston Battery, the club he made his professional debut with in 2016. He admitted as much after the match. However, with a sweet stroke of his right foot in the 15th minute, the disappointment of lackluster showings this season all evaporated.

Just like that, you could see the spark return to the Powder Springs native’s eye. The confidence came rushing back, the touches were more crisp, his passes more accurate, and the ‘sauce’ began flowing again.

“It was an awesome feeling to score a goal with the first team in a competitive game,” Carleton told reporters after the match. “You know it’s funny because one of the assistant coaches said, ‘Hey if you get a chance don’t be afraid to shoot.’ That was the first thing that came into my mind when I got the ball, and I just took a touch inside and let it go.I hit it how I wanted, and it was a pretty good shot. So I was happy to see it go in.”

It seemed like a goal is exactly what Carleton needed to finally kick-start his season. Now it’s a matter of building on that. Whether it’s with the first-team or in the USL. Taking that confidence and translating it into consistency is how prospects transition into impact players. Now that the pressure of scoring a goal for the senior team is off his back, maybe now he can find that consistency.