Report: Atlanta United considering adding reserve team to USL in 2018

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Is Atlanta United about to get its own reserve team? If reports are to be believed, it could be coming as soon as next season.

Kristian Dyer of Metro US is reporting that Atlanta are moving towards adding a brand new expansion team to USL for the 2018 season.

The past two seasons, Atlanta have been affiliated with the Charleston Battery where a few of their players have gone on loan to earn some much-needed experience. However, with the team’s academy in full-swing and the gap between the youth teams and first-team still very big, there needs to a bridge built. It appears the team is ready to build it.

Several MLS clubs have their own team operating as a reserve side within the USL. Those teams include New York Red Bulls, Orlando City, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, and Seattle Sounders. It makes complete sense for Atlanta United, a franchise vying to become one of the best in the country, to follow suit.

With the U.S. Soccer Development Academy ending at age 18, there needs to be a place for Atlanta’s young players to play after they have graduated. If College soccer isn’t a desirable option for most, they need to play professional. The Battery affiliation was useful to kick start the club’s existence, but it has quickly out grown that model. This step seems the most logical one.

Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but it appears like it’s close to happening. Stay tuned for more details in the future.

Comments

Oh, yes yes yes yes yes!

International players

Do international players assigned to a Reserve squad still count toward the parent club’s total? I’m guessing yes – which makes me wonder where we stash green players without Green Cards (I’m looking at you, Otoo).

They do not

Is it possible to have a development team and still maintain the relationship with the Battery?

For instance if Garces becomes the starting keeper for the proposed ATL UTD II, could we continue loaning Tambakis to the Battery?

Would be one or the other most likely.

It wouldn’t stop us from loaning players to the Battery, but it wouldn’t be possible to send them/pull them whenever.

This is not correct. I’ve looked at the CBA where it covers USL loans. Unless you can point to a specific section in the CBA that I have either missed or point out how I have misunderstood it, you aren’t correct in saying that, Don’tConte. There is nothing I read that would prevent a played loaned to the Battery from being called back even if AU runs their own USL team.

As far loaning Tambakis goes, if he’s not good enough to start for an AU owned USL team, then I wouldn’t even bother with loaning him out to a different USL team, in this case Charleston. That would make him 4th on the depth chart. At that point AU might as well move on and find another goalie.

Ah thank you for the correction. I was under the assumption that them being our affiliate allowed us to pull and send players whenever

And that our reserve team would prevent us from sending and pulling players whenever to the Battery. Thank you for the info.

Then flip it and loan Garces out

he’s our future at GK and we want to develop him.

No use for Charleston

Once our own USL team is up and running. Charleston has their own players, their own coaches, their own long term plans and goals. It does them very little good to play our prospects and run our schemes or formations. Frankly, it’s not their job to develop our players. It would be the job of our own USL team, we’d get to hire our own coaching staff, set our own starting lineups.

Honestly, Charleston could do without most of our prospects anyway. Most MLS owned reserve teams that play in USL finish at the bottom of the standings (most, not all). That’s not surprising given that they’re 18-20 year old players who are too old for academies and not yet ready for the MLS roster, and they’re playing against other USL squads made up of grown men.

Good post. Also, one of the problems you can potentially run into when you use an independent team for your top minor league affiliate instead of owning it yourself is that the affiliate’s goals are really just to put butts in the seats and win minor league championships. This can be at odds with player development. You can get into situations where coaches, who answer to their owners and not the major league parent club, start to play veterans who have no real future in the major leagues but are good minor league players and can help you win and prospects don’t play much if at all. And in rare cases where it really goes bad, you can get into bizarre situations like the Atlanta Thrashers had with their top (independently owned) minor league affiliate where the affiliate began to dictate terms and push around the parent club. I just ask AU not to do what Orlando has done, where they’ve owned their USL affiliate for the past 2 years but to put butts in the seat they play a lot of veterans who have no future in MLS but can play well at the USL level and prospects are rotting on the bench. The worst of both worlds if you will.

I guess an AU owned USL team would play at the training site in Marietta. Sadly that’s not a great location for me, but I suppose that on weekends if they have a game and AU isn’t playing on that date I could probably get over there for a few games.

I wouldn't mind eventually seeing a rule like the Bundesliga has

It’s partially tied to pro/rel but the reserve sides aren’t allowed in the top 2 divisions and if the senior team is 3rd division then the reserve squad can’t be higher than the 5th.

Most reserve squads probably belong in leagues like the USL PDL or the NPSL anyway.

Funny you mention that...

Just last week, the news came out that the USL filed a trademark application for the names "USL Championship", "USL League 1", "USL League 2" and "USL Youth". Unless they’re being blatant patent trolls, that tells me they clearly have some long term plans of pro/rel within the USL.

This would be huge...

Big benefit to AUFC. There are a lot of prospects in the South and this will help build a path from youth to the pro team.

Could we play/see some pre or post double header games with the senior team? If we have a 5pm game, get the USL team to play a game at 2pm at the MB Dome? Or if we have the 1pm game, have them play at 4pm? And if we can’t do that…I’d like to see if we could play some games somewhere near the stadium or Marta…so we can accomplish the same thing.

With the support the senior team has, I’d bet we could pull a solid 2-3k each game if we get creative.

I said this after the USMNT debacle...

The biggest obstacle in youth development for American players is that they hit a roadblock at the 18-22 year old age range. They’re too old for development academies, the U-20 and Olympic teams only have room for 23 guys, and they’re too young to legitimately earn playing time at the MLS level. So where do they go to earn minutes? If they were European or South American, they’d get loaned out to a team in a smaller league, which there are literally hundreds of them to choose from, in the US there are about 40-50 professional teams outside of MLS they could get loaned to, or they could go NCAA, neither of which are ideal development leagues. And many of them aren’t eligible for a European passport, so signing with a European club isn’t an option. So every year, American soccer has dozens of blue chip prospects just dying on the vine because there isn’t a competitive enough league for them to keep growing physically and developing their game. USA Soccer desperately needs a stable and competitive 2nd and 3rd division where MLS teams can stash their prospects who have outgrown the academy but aren’t quite ready for first team minutes.

I think the Roadblock is 14...

I used to say 18 also until I really started looking at the process. The DAs practically rule everything now. High School soccer is pretty much pushed aside now by the DAs.

There are 80 DAs starting at U15 and climbing to U18…do you think the 20 or so players on the U15 are replaced each year by better players…you know the ones that hadn’t moved to the area yet, or had a bad day, or were injured, or were a late developer? Doubt it…I’d say 75% (would love to see this stat) go from U15 to U18. Also, most the top colleges (let’s say top 30-40) pick their players around Freshman year of high school. And they go first to the DAs. BTW—only 30 states have a DA…sorry if you’re in the 20 that don’t.

There are about 4-5M youth male soccer players in the USA…a country the size of Europe just about. We don’t have coaches. We don’t have recruiting networks (think College Football…that’s our goal). We’re pay to play. So we go from 4-5M to about 1,600 around age 14…

BTW…a short list of players who didn’t get a look at a YNT before they went to college….Demp, Cameron, Holden, Besler, Zusi, CD9, Bedoya, Ream, McBride, Nagbe…the list can keep going. Heck, Jay Demerit got cut by an MLS team and went to a pub team in Europe. ( I apologize if I am wrong on 1 or 2 of these…but my point still stands.) There is a ton of top talent in the USA that every year gives up because there is literally no where to go.

I also posted in the s & s firestorm after the loss……our academy system is the answer. We need 22 of those, plus 22 USL II sides.

The current system doesn’t work. Throw it out. The High school / college model won’t work, because those coaches are only concerned with winning.

Once you have blanket MLS academy coverage, you’ll see a smoother pipeline to MLS. And the USMNT. And, Europe.

Let me ask you a question…how many coaches in the DA do you think are interested in just winning? I agree that we need the 44 lower level teams…but that number of teams still will never help us.

IMO, just about all coaches that make any amount of money with soccer are concerned with one thing…winning. If they win…they keep their paying gig. And, the coaches that don’t make any money, that coach a higher level, are concerned with winning only because that’s the only way they get to the higher paying gig.

Think of it like this…including MLS, how many coaches make 100K or more a year in the USA? I’d say all 22 MLS coaches, maybe 2-3 of their staff. Then I’d say 15-20 college coaches? Doubt any USL coach does. I’d probably say about 50 DA/Club coaches. So 100-150 in the whole country.

Now, how many high school football coaches in GA make over 100K? 17. Add in the Falcons, college ball…there are probably 100 people just in this state that make 100K or more in relation to coaching football.

This is why I don’t trust anything that involves coaches when it comes to soccer development. Plus, players make themselves players…not coaches. In fact, a bad coach can take a good player and make him doubt everything he’s done to get where he is at.

Yes. Exactly. The players need to be in a system that prioritizes growth over all else…..like our U system. At Unitez.

Very good point Aubie

To me the answer is more, more more! We need more professional teams that all have academies and reserve teams. Run the math, take the UK for example… their top 8 divisions of pro soccer have about 350 teams, all of which have youth academies and reserve teams where they buy/sell/develop/grow players and the cream rises to the top. The UK had a population of about 60 million people. The US and Canada combined have less than 100 professional teams, not all of which have academies and reserve squads, and our combined population is about 360 million, about 6x the size of the UK! Proportionally, to be on the same scale as pro soccer in the UK, we would need about 2,100 pro soccer teams spread around the US and Canada! Frankly, American (and Canadian) soccer just does not cast a wide enough net! We’re mopping the floor with a toothbrush… we can get small areas really really clean, but we leave huge swaths of area completely untouched!

Agree with your number of about 2100 pro soccer teams…but take the pro out of it. This is the reason we need to really embrace college. First, do you think we have 2100 good enough coaches to coach those teams? Plus the asst coaches… And it’s going to be really expensive…we will literally never reach the financial situation to accomplish that…we would need about 2-3M per team to make it work or about $6.3 billion (please check my math of 2100 times 3M). Salaries, grounds crew, stadium rental, travel and hotel, food, trainers and health care…and a team might bring in 100k in ticket sales.

However, if we utilized what is already in place…high schools and colleges…we can make it work. Both already have a lot of that taken care of thanks to other sports. They own a school bus (and in some cases planes). They have fields and grounds crews, they have trainers and medical areas, they have cafeterias…the real cost would be coaching salaries, gas and scholarships. And our recruiting networks would really expand (think NFL to NCAAF to HS to 7v7(club stuff) Football.

My goal, as an American who loves soccer, is to expand playing opportunities first with whats already in place. Then work on National Training Centers where players can travel to, versus coaches/recruiters having to go to them.

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