As an early Labor Day present, the Atlanta United Academy released its rosters for the upcoming academy season.
We at Dirty South Soccer wish them and their families the best as they begin or continue a very challenging yet exciting adventure. We write about these players because we admire their passion and want to support their dreams of playing soccer at the highest level. They are our hometown kids and we cannot wait to see what they do next.
Introducing our 2020-21 Academy Teams! #UniteAndConquer pic.twitter.com/FWzBimdy0f— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) September 4, 2020
The announcement video goes a little bit quickly so screenshots of the individual teams will be shared below. There are a lot of familiar faces returning to the club and a few new players joining from local teams and regional academies including Chattanooga Red Wolves and Richmond United. Atlanta United have stressed the importance of building a regional network of development partners and we can see that starting to pay off with new additions from Inter Atlanta SC, SSA, GSA, NASA/Top Hat, Concorde Fire, and Georgia Alliance SC.
Thank you to the clubs for their hard work and continuing to provide opportunities to their players!#UniteAndConquer pic.twitter.com/QHl8VisiVp— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) September 4, 2020
The U-19s are all returning players, many of whom have featured for the USL squad this summer. Will Reilly, Coleman Gannon, Vicente Reyes, David Mejia, Ajani Fortune, and Matthew Edwards have all stepped up in a big way for the 2’s and have likely set themselves up for future professional opportunities. Andrew Durkin and Matthew Edwards are our likely centerback pair for this squad
What is surprising about this roster is how small it is. With only 14 players, the U-19s will rely heavily on the U-17s and U-16s for depth and spot starters throughout the season.
This will be an intriguing class to follow to see who will receive professional contracts who and will play collegiate soccer. Will Reilly (Stanford), Coleman Gannon (Indiana), and Wasswa Robbins (Navy) already have verbal commitments to collegiate programs but Reilly and Gannon may be playing their way out of college and into the professional ranks.
Atlanta United’s newest Homegrown Players, Efrain Morales, headlines this talented group. Many of you may recognize Caleb Wiley from his starting role with the 2’s, along with Owen Wolff, the younger brother of recent debutant Tyler Wolff.
A lot of these players will make their debuts with the 2’s next season and will become household names very quickly due to how deep and talented this roster is. I would expect to see Morales and Nigel Prince start as the first-choice centerback pairing with Wiley on the left
Atlanta United welcomes two new players to the academy on the U-17 team. Cristiano Bruletti (midfielder) joins us from Vardar SC, a Michigan-based academy that has developed players in their region since 1982. Samuel Mendoza arrives from the Barca Academy, Barcelona’s Arizona-based residency program.
Elijah Buford returns to a high-powered offense with Ty Nero and Alan Carleton also returning. There is a lot of young talent on this squad who will play up one or two age groups during the season, and maybe one or two who could garner early interest for their first professional contract.
The U-16s welcome Bartum Kulah from the Gwinnett Soccer Academy as the only new face on the team. Best of luck to him. Bart is a goal-scoring defensive midfielder who will be a great addition to this squad.
Welcome back to all of our former U-14s. We have a few new additions to the squad in Justin Enamorado and Campbell Reece of Richmond United, Bryce Jamison of NASA Top Hat, Shawn Lanza of Inter Atlanta FC, and Eyasu Smieja of Concorde Fire. Best of luck to the U-15s.
Welcome back to last year’s U-13s. Jesse Garcia joins us from the Chattanooga Red Wolves and Ashton Gordon come over from Concorde Fire. Best of luck to the U-14s.
Welcome back to last year’s U-12s. Kenneth Hayles is our only new face this year. He joins the club from Gwinnett Soccer Academy. Best of luck to all of the U-13s.
And finally, welcome to all of our new U-12s, the youngest players in our academy. Some of these players may achieve the dream of playing for their hometown team. The journey starts here, so best of luck to all of them.
You will notice some of these players already have Atlanta United by their names. These players are part of the ambitious Juniors program Atlanta United began recently to begin preparation for players under 12 years old through clinics, training, and other support opportunities. This is part of a broader grassroots effort to raise the quality of instruction across the Atlanta area to improve the experience for young athletes, and improve the quality of players available to local youth academies.