If you follow Atlanta United, you’ve been waiting for Andrew Carleton to finally get his chance. On Wednesday night, Carleton finally got his shot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and he looked exceptional.
The 17-year-old showed no fear against Miami FC, running at defenders and pulling out of his bag of tricks on a handful of occasions.
The confidence shown by Carleton provided the base for a strong performance and every time he picked up the ball, he looked dangerous. The youngster almost highlighted his performance with a goal, but a strong save from Daniel Vega early in the game, and a volley that went just wide, denied him of a special moment.
Arguably the brightest spark on the pitch, Carleton looked at home playing against grown men and looked extremely comfortable throughout the game.
While the goal didn’t arrive for Carleton and Miami eventually emerged as victors, the performance of the 17-year old spoke volumes. His performance particularly impressed the Miami FC head coach, the legendary Alessandro Nesta.
Nesta said that Carleton gave his side many problems, before adding:
“He’s physical and fast. It’s hard to find wing players of influence. He is one already and he will develop.”
“It isn’t just speed or ability with the ball (with Carleton). He has a rare ability to see space in tight areas and attack it. He nearly scored at the end of the opening half simply by seeing a small space between our center halves and attacking it. That’s instinct.” — Alessandro Nesta; Source: Neil Blackmon
The glowing praise of Alessandro Nesta says a lot about just how good Carleton is, despite being so young. If Nesta can see the potential that the 17-year old holds and is already impressed by his development, it’s time for Carleton to feature more often.
The instinct that Nesta refers to is rare, and to have that instinct at such a young age, it’s evident that Carleton is progressing faster than many expected.
As shown against Miami FC, he’s not short on confidence and he’s ready to seize the opportunity if he gets one. The time is now for Carleton to get the chances he deserves and after Wednesday night, the fans will be desperate to see more of what he can do.
We’ve seen what Andrew Carleton is capable of on various stages now, for both the United States youth teams and Atlanta United. The talent is there and he continues to shine when the cameras are on him. He may be just a teenager, but he’s really good and he’s not afraid to show it.