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Gabriel Heinze expresses frustration about the MLS-Academy relationship

Heinze advocated for greater academy involvement in MLS competition while speaking with reporters this week.

SOCCER: APR 13 CONCACAF Champions League - LD Alajuelense at Atlanta United Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a recent interview, Gabriel Heinze shared his frustration in not having the same usage of his academy players at Atlanta United that he enjoyed with Velez Sarsfield and Argentinos Juniors. Unlike in other leagues around the world, academy players in the United States are not allowed to participate in official league matches above the USL level unless they have signed a professional contract. This likely is intended to retain their amateur status for collegiate eligibility.

When asked about his tendency to play his kids while coaching in Argentina, Heinze added, “The rules here are much different and I don’t agree with them at all. I want a lot of ... academy players to play for the first team but that’s not possible (in MLS).”

Heinze offered a massive compliment to Atlanta United’s academy and outgoing Academy Director Tony Annan by admitting that there are several currently-unsigned academy prospects he believes could contribute at the MLS level right now.

According to Felipe Cardenas of The Athletic, Heinze went on further to share that despite his limitations on who can play in actual MLS matches, Heinze has not changed his approach when it comes to working with young players and that he’s identified a group of ATLUTD academy players with whom he personally works in training.

For fans anxious about the academy’s future without the leadership and guidance of Tony Annan, this should be a reassuring message from the club’s skipper, and a sign of exciting things to come with the 2s in 2021.