Atlanta United announced today it has signed center back Efrain Morales as a Homegrown Player, effective Jan. 1, 2021. The 16-year-old defender is the eighth player to sign as a Homegrown in club history and is the first player to sign from the academy’s inaugural U-12 team.
In January, Morales went across the pond to train with Manchester United, and shortly after was called up to play for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s U-17 team as a 15-year-old, ahead of the U-17 World Cup that was supposed to be played this summer.
“We’re pleased to announce Efrain as our latest product to sign out of our Academy,” said Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra. “Efrain has been with us since we started the program in 2016, and credit goes to the hard work of our entire Academy staff as Efrain has developed consistently, but still shows a lot of potential. He’s a local kid who joined our academy at a young age, so he thoroughly understands the Atlanta United philosophy and has a strong understanding of how we want to play. We’re eager to see his continued development.”
Morales joined the Atlanta United Academy for its inaugural season in 2016-17, playing for the U-12s. He made 22 appearances and scored four goals. He quickly jumped age groups the following season, splitting time equally between the U-15s and U-14s and appearing in 16 matches for each team.