Amid all of the news about player departures and speculation around incoming transfers, an important story was lost in the shuffle. Currently, Atlanta United’s academy and 2s team have at least 7 players preparing to play in major international youth tournaments with significant implications for the nations they are representing and for their own careers.
Leading this group is Atlanta United 2’s goalkeeper Vicente Reyes, who was officially selected to represent Chile for the CONMEBOL U-20 Championships. Reyes is one of just two players on the squad to not currently play for a Chilean club and the only player who is based outside of South America. This tournament will take place in Colombia from January 19 - February 12 with the top 4 finishers qualifying for the U-20 World Cup and the top 3 also qualifying for the Pan American Games. Chile’s best-ever finish in this tournament was as runners-up in 1975. As the expected starter, a top 3 or 4 finish for Reyes would be a significant boost to his career and theoretically to his valuation for the club. As the presumptive next Homegrown signing, he and Justin Garces seem to be the two favorites to inherit Brad Guzan’s throne. A strong showing at this tournament plus the others that may follow could prove to be a catalyst for his development.
⚽ Los 23 de #LaRojaSub20 para el Sudamericano Sub 20 Colombia 2023— Selección Chilena (@LaRoja) January 7, 2023
Esta es la nómina de futbolistas que a partir del 20 de enero, disputarán el torneo.
✅ El cuadro nacional forma parte del Grupo B, junto a Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay y Bolivia. #VamosLaRoja pic.twitter.com/Q0kRhYNUFe
Efrain Morales will also be participating in this U-20 tournament for Bolivia. He is seen as a big win for Bolivia due to his athletic profile and potential to develop into a highly coveted midfield and defensive prospect in world football. This tournament will cap-tie him to Bolivia unless he completes a one-time switch to the US. Like Reyes, he is one of the very few players on his side currently competing outside of the home country of his team. Morales has had an inconsistent few years in the organization due to injury. Starting the 2023 season off with a strong showing for Bolivia could be the confidence boost he needs heading into a pivotal season for the club.
#ALaVerdeSiempre— LA VERDE (@laverde_fbf) January 17, 2023
Te presentamos a nuestros 23 guerreros que representarán a #Bolivia en la CONMEBOL SUB-20.
Esta es la nómina de jugadores que viajaron en la delegación nacional rumbo a Colombia. pic.twitter.com/po4DvMnQRe
Atlanta United 2’s David Mejia was also in the Peruvian U-20s training camp ahead of this tournament and now is back in Atlanta training in the preseason after not being selected for the final U-20 tournament squad. This may actually be the better option for Mejia who has a real chance to earn the trust of his club coaching staff. The club seemed confused by what to do with him last season, playing him all over the field. A more consistent starting role for the 2s could be exactly what Mejia needs to break out.
If any of these South American teams make it to the U-20 World Cup this summer, they may see some familiar faces on the US side. Caleb Wiley and Tyler Wolff will be joining the U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team camp from Jan. 19-29 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. This duo of Atlanta United homegrowns is part of an exciting squad that continues preparations for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, set for May 20-June 11 in Indonesia. Wolff was part of the US team that won the CONCACAF U-20 Championship last year to advance to the U-20 World Cup. Wiley also received an invitation to that tournament but was dealing with injuries at the time. Wiley has since represented the US at the U-20 level despite being only 18 years old.
Noah Cobb was called up by the USYNT U-19s for a training camp from January 5-13 in Coral Gables, Florida. Cobb has been previously called up by the US U-19s. This call-up comes on the heels of Carlos Bocanegra, a former USMNT captain, saying he believes Cobb has senior national team potential. With the potential for first-team minutes in 2023, this has to be a great boost for Cobb that will propel him into training camp with a lot of momentum.
Academy players Malachi Grant (‘06) and Ashton Gordon (‘07) will join the Jamaican U-17 camp ahead of the Concacaf U-17 championship in Guatemala between 11 February and 22 February 2023. The top four teams qualified for the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru as CONCACAF representatives.
Reggae Boyz calling— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) January 7, 2023
Malachi Grant and Ashton Gordon have been called up by Jamaica for a training camp ahead of the 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship pic.twitter.com/Uh5Vi0AeqO
Also called up for the U-17 CONCACAF tournament is Ashton Gordon’s teammate, Julian Bretous (07), an academy midfielder who primarily plays as a 6 or an 8 with the U-16s. He joined Atlanta United’s academy at the beginning of this academy season from the North Atlanta Soccer Association (NASA) of the ECNL.
Atlanta United’s U-16 defensive midfielder Adyn Torres (07) was called up by the USYNT U-16 team for their January camp from Jan. 4-13 at the Hillsborough County Tournament Sportsplex in Tampa, Florida. All of these players are eligible for the upcoming U-17 tournament in Guatemala and will be competing within their age group and with the U-17s for a chance to represent the US in this major regional tournament.
That wraps up our round-up of international call-ups (that was fun to write) for now, with the US U-20s in the mix later this spring ahead of the U-20 World Cup. Caleb Wiley, Tyler Wolff, and potentially Noah Cobb could all be in the mix for that roster so it will be worth keeping an eye on each of them as they and their national team counterparts prepare for that tournament.
Congratulations to all of these players and best of luck as you represent your countries and club on the international stage.