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Atlanta United academy alumni earn opportunities in domestic fourth division

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Record number of former academy players join 4th Division teams

A generic image of a professional soccer goal Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

The summer is nearly here so it is time for some fourth-division soccer. The two major leagues in the United States are USL League Two (formerly the PDA) and the NPSL. Both leagues have seen incredible growth in the last few years as more robust academy structures and greater interest in the sport have led to increasing demand for playing time at all levels. This provides a very real benefit for college athletes as these leagues are still amateur in the American soccer pyramid and thus will not conflict with their ability to compete in collegiate athletics. These leagues are also wonderful opportunities for young players to gain valuable experience over the summer while trying to catch the attention of a second or third-division club.

While former Atlanta United academy players have used these leagues in the past to keep themselves fresh in the long college offseason, we have seen a dramatic jump in player involvement this year. At least two dozen college and professional players who played for the academy are currently listed on rosters in the NPSL. Andrew Carleton, Patrick Okonkwo, and Ale Castro have already begun their professional careers and need playing time to showcase themselves for potential suitors. Alhaji Tambadu just completed his senior season with Georgia Southern and will be looking for his first professional contract at the end of the summer. While their motives may vary, all of these players are taking advantage of a boom in American soccer competition with an especially large expansion of teams in the Southeast.

2021 Former Atlanta United Academy Players on 4th Division Sides

Team Name Position College Notes
Team Name Position College Notes
Appalachian FC Jeremiah Luoma D/M Georgia Southern
Asheville SC Michael Wilkerson F University of San Diego
Atlantic City FC Patrick Okonkwo CF n/a Former Homegrown Player
Dayton Dutch Lions Mbongeni Kanyane LB Dayton
Georgia Revolution Ale Castro M n/a Former Atlanta United 2 signee
Georgia Revolution Vic Delgado M NC State University
Georgia Revolution Dyan Gaither AM Mercer
Georgia Revolution Miguel Gonzalez M Georgia Gwinnett College
Georgia Revolution Josh Hangi GK Akron
Georgia Revolution Alexis Itturia M Clayton State
Georgia Revolution Ousman Jabang M/D Mercer
Georgia Revolution Russell Shealy GK Syracuse
Georgia Revolution Alhaji Tambadu DM Georgia Southern University Just graduated from GSU
Georgia Revolution Brant Zulauf GK Mercer
Georgia Storm Andrew Carleton AM/LW n/a Former Homegrown Player
Lionsbridge FC Aldair Cortes M/D High Point University
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Akinjide Awujo F Villanova
Southern Soccer Academy Kings John Michael Bandy LB/LM University of Kentucky
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Trevor Byrne D Anderson University
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Michael Chappelear F Memphis
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Brandon Clagette F University of Pittsburgh
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Josh Francombe RB Elon
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Omar Mustafic M Georgia Southern University
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Chase Oliver M/F Wake Forest University
Southern Soccer Academy Kings Miguel Ramirez F Duke University
2021 - Former Atlanta United Academy Players on 4th Division Teams Film_Fan

These leagues are a viable path to the pros for many players and that path seems to be growing as more and more draftees enter MLS with 4th division experience. Atlanta United’s own Jack Gurr played for Georgia Revolution before joining Atlanta United 2.

We will continue to update this growing list of local talent as the college season draws to a close and the USL League Two and NPSL seasons progress.

If we missed anyone, please let us know in the comments.