Atlanta United announced today it has signed Caleb Wiley to a Homegrown contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. Wiley has been with the Atlanta United Academy since its inaugural season and has played significant minutes with Atlanta United 2 the past two years.
Wiley’s development is not unlike that of George Bello. While similarities are obvious in that they both play left back, both also rose through the Academy at a rapid pace and younger age and both have played up in age groups for the U.S. Youth National Team.
Dirty South Soccer identified Wiley as the most likely prospect to be signed to a HGP deal in a post last week. Here’s the blurb on why he’s such a highly rated prospect.
The readiest player in the academy right now for MLS minutes is George Bello’s heir at left-back, Caleb Wiley. Wiley’s timeline to a Homegrown contract likely is aligned with when George Bello is sold overseas. While Wiley is not yet ready to start at the MLS level, Andrew Gutman can fill in for as long as needed whether that is half a season or through the summer of 2023. The club’s internal assessment of Wiley’s proximity to MLS minutes also likely swayed the team away from signing Charlie Asensio since they are currently four-deep with Bello, Gutmann, Mikey Ambrose, and Wiley at left-back.
Wiley is doing everything he can and should to earn that first contract, and Atlanta United should do everything the club can to ensure that his first contract is not in Europe. As just a 16-year-old, Wiley has already started for two seasons in the USL Championship and has played up two age groups at the international level to represent the United States and Atlanta United against three top U-20 teams. Wiley started all three matches, and by all accounts was one of the few bright spots for an otherwise disappointing and chemistry-less outing for the Americans. Wiley plays with a lot of speed, grit, polish, and poise that continues to make him seem older than the 16-year-old player that he is. His defense is already advanced for his age and his offensive ability took a huge leap forward with him even starting as a left wing rather than as a fullback for the U-19s. Wiley is already a more dynamic and intriguing product than George Bello and is likely being watched closely by teams around the world.
Wiley still has more developing to do before he will be relied upon regularly with the first team, but solidifying his future with the club is great news for both parties. For further fun reading, Atlanta United did a great profile on Wiley’s dad, Chris, that you can see here.
“We are excited to sign Caleb as a professional and continue his development with Atlanta United,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “He’s still young but has gotten invaluable minutes through 33 games with ATL UTD 2 which has shown us that he’s ready for the next challenge in his career.”
Wiley, 17, joined the Atlanta United Academy at the age of 11 as a member of the club’s inaugural U-12 team in 2016. He progressed through the Academy and made his professional debut on July 11, 2020 with ATL UTD 2, becoming the youngest player in club history to appear in a professional game at 15 years and 206 days. Wiley went on to play 11 games in 2020, all starts, and finished with 910 minutes played. He led ATL UTD 2 with 25 interceptions that season.
In 2021, Wiley established himself as one of the main pillars along the ATL UTD 2 backline, starting all 22 matches that he played in the USL Championship. He finished with 1,877 total minutes played, giving him 2,787 combined minutes, the most of any Atlanta United Academy player in USL. He was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week on two occasions. He recorded his first career assist on June 6, 2021 in a 1-0 win against Louisville City FC. He added another assist later in the season in a 6-2 win vs. Indy Eleven.
Wiley has also gained international experience over the past couple of seasons. In early 2020, the defender was called into the USMNT U-17s for three friendly matches. At the end of last year, Wiley was called up to the USMNT U-20s for the Revelations Cup in Mexico. He played in all three matches, earning two starts.
Congratulations to Caleb and the Wiley family! We’re excited to see where you go from here.