We all know Atlanta United had an underwhelming and at times downright disheartening 2020 season. From losing Josef to a season ending injury in the team’s MLS season opener to failing to make the playoffs for the first time in the club’s short history, there wasn’t much to cheer about. Even tonight, when Atlanta’s fate in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League seemed predetermined, there didn’t seem to be much to really care about.
Then Jackson Conway made his first team debut. Then he scored just minutes later.
DEBUT and GOAL. Congrats Jackson Conway. #SCCL2020 @ATLUTD pic.twitter.com/MdUkFAtcdv— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) December 17, 2020
⚽️ Goal @ATLUTD !— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) December 17, 2020
Jackson Conway scores the 1-0 at 83'! | #SCCL2020 pic.twitter.com/ZECjglReuZ
It was too little too late, but it’s always special when a player scores on their debut, even more so when it’s a player that came through the team’s own academy. The goal meant a lot.
The assist meant a lot, too.
Fellow homegrown George Bello set up Conway’s debut goal. It was a goal made in Atlanta! Two young players that came through the revered Atlanta United Academy combining for a first team goal, against a team of Club América’s stature (although honestly it could have been against any team and I would still be ecstatic) will always be a special moment in the club’s and city’s history.
As someone who was born and raised close to Atlanta and grew up playing soccer pretty much my whole life, it was a pretty surreal moment to see two homegrown players combine for a goal, even if it didn’t make much of an impact on the match. If a Conway-and-Bello-created-goal meant that much to me, imagine what young players in the academy and throughout Atlanta and Georgia can take from the club’s first homegrown-made goal.
There’s a pathway now, and that’s pretty awesome.
Sadly, so many Atlanta homegrown players have not been able to truly make the jump to the first team. Bello seems to be on his way, and hopefully Conway is too.
We’re rooting for you, and you’ve already made us proud.