As the 2020-2021 academy season approaches, we have some news that will add a drop of clarity to a murky pool of the Atlanta United Academy’s immediate future for anyone outside of the organization.
We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta United FC Academy to the ECNL Boys for 2020-2021, joining a revamped Southeast Conference loaded with top talent! Together, we will #AlwaysBeMore— Boys ECNL (@BoysECNL) July 1, 2020
Read More: https://t.co/k4HY4Dw8CS pic.twitter.com/MrpIFy8wjw
Atlanta United will be joining the ECNL Boys competition for the 2020-2021 season in the Southeast Conference. This conference, and the ECNL as a whole, have expanded quickly following the sudden demise of the US Development Academy last spring. This conference is full of familiar faces with Concorde Fire, UFA, NASA/Top Hat, GSA, and Atlanta Fire all finding a home here. Some of our USL neighbors also announced that they would be competing in the ECNL including Chattanooga Redwolves and the South Georgia Tormenta. Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, and Orlando City will also be competing in the ECNL this upcoming season.
“We are really excited to have a club with the pedigree and reputation of Atlanta United Academy join the ECNL,” said ECNL Boys Commissioner Jason Kutney. “Their teams will raise the already high level of competition in the Southeast Conference even higher, and mark another step forward for the ECNL in providing a fantastic development platform for the nation’s best players and teams.”
Though the specifics of the season and the team alignments are yet to be fully released, ECNL reports that their 2020-2021 season will be comprised of 130 teams across 10 Conferences.
This comes as the MLS Academy Platform opens its application process for clubs to join the already 94-team strong platform which still hasn’t announced anything other than its existence. Though some outlets have interpreted Atlanta United’s addition to the ECNL as a departure from the fledgeling MLS Academy Platform, it seems that it is just an additional competition to allow for more local and elite match-day opportunities for academy players from the U-12s through the U-19s.
“We are excited for our Academy teams to play a great schedule of competitive games in our region, against quality competition in the Southeast Conference of the ECNL Boys,” said Atlanta United Academy Director, Tony Annan.
Based on Annan’s comments from earlier in the spring, the aim of the academy is to focus on local competition for younger age groups and then expand the scope and difficulty of competition for players as they advance through the age groups. This affiliation with the ECNL should offer those opportunities to continue local in-state rivalries and free up older boys for international matches and MLS Academy competition once that materializes.
This will be just the first article of many as we approach the start of the new post-Development Academy calendar for our youth squads in August.
Stay tuned here for more.