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Atlanta United 2 announces 2023 roster for first MLS NEXT Pro season

The Steve Cooke era of Atlanta United 2 begins

Atlanta United 2 announced the club’s inaugural roster for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season per the league’s roster compliance deadline. This roster will be led by Head Coach Steve Cooke who brings more than 30 years of national and international coaching experience with him, most recently serving as the academy director of the Seatle Sounders.

“I’m incredibly excited to join such a high quality group of people and prestigious club like Atlanta United,” Cooke said. “I want to thank Matt, Garth Lagerwey and Carlos Bocanegra for their collective faith in me to lead ATL UTD 2 as the team joins MLS NEXT Pro. The southeast is a hotbed for talented young players, and has a long history of developing professional players. I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to help the players reach their dreams, and to aid Atlanta United in the development of the club’s future stars.”

He will be joined on staff by former Atlanta United Academy U-19 head coach Jose Silva, who helped guide the U-19s to the UPSL Georgia Conference Regular Season Champion in the most recently completed Fall 2022 season and was named UPSL Coach of the Year in each of his two Fall seasons with the team.

They will lead a group made up of Homegrown Players on loan from the first team, former academy standouts on their first professional contracts, intriguing international and domestic prospects, and Superdraft picks Tyler Young and Eric Centeno. In addition to the official roster listed below, Atlanta United Academy and First Team players will join this squad throughout the league season as in years past. Some academy players already getting call-ups with the squad in the preseason include 14-year-old midfielder Cooper Sanchez, Oregan State-bound Italo Jenkins, Clemson-bound Mathieu Brick and Remi Okunlola, and academy prospects Andrew De Gannes, Matthew Dejianne, Ashton Gordon, Danial Sebhatu, and Adyn Torres.

When asked about the role of MLS NEXT PRO and Atlanta United 2 in the club’s development system, Garth Lagerway shared that the developmental priorities for the club will center on the U-15s, U-17s, 2s, and first team as the tentpole progression for young talent working their way up the organizational ladder. Lagerway emphasized that the 2s will be where young players on the first team can get valuable minutes while ascendant academy prospects can get challenged and rewarded for their exceptional play at lower levels. This is part of a long-term vision shared by Academy Director Matt Lawrey and 2s Head Coach Steve Cooke to create a competitive pipeline for developing their top talent, building competition and chemistry as a unit with the 2s, and signing the best of that group to the first team.

Lagerway also discussed the club’s interest in bringing up one or two 2s players occasionally for opportunities with the first team. Ahead of the first 2s match of the season, the first team signed short-term contracts with Nick Firmino, Luke Brennan, and Alan Carleton to get their first taste of the MLS Regular Season as vital depth in place of players called up for international duty. While Brennan is already signed to a Homegrown Player contract that begins in 2024 and Carleton seems likely to follow a year later, Firmino hopes to follow a similar track to what Aidan McFadden experienced in 2022, as a reservist making the most of his opportunity with the first team.

ATL UTD 2 will host New England Revolution II in its season opener on March 26 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. EST. These matches will be streamed on MLS NEXT PRO’s website.

2023 Atlanta United 2 roster (as of March 24, 2023)

All contracts include team option years


Name Designation Position Contact Length
Name Designation Position Contact Length
Fuad Adeyini - D 2024
Luke Brenan HG as of 1/1/24 F 2023
Alan Carleton - M 2024
Eric Centeno LOAN RW/RB 2026
Nick Firmino - M 2023
Justin Garces LOAN GK 2025
Sebastian Guerra INTL GK 2023
David Mejia - M/F 2024
Efrain Morales LOAN CB/DM 2025
Emenike Nwogu INTL M 2023
Nelson Orji INTL D 2023
Raimar INTL LB 2023
Vicente Reyes - GK 2023
Toni Tiente - DM/CB 2023
Karim Tmimi INTL F 2023
Kofi Twumasi - M 2023
Jonantan Villal - M 2024
Tyler Young - M 2023