One of the questions during Atlanta United’s preseason training is which of the younger players have a shot at playing time with the MLS side and which will see the most action with ATL UTD 2 in the USL. With United owning a locally-based USL affiliate, it can now have full control of its youngsters as opposed to sending them to the Charleston Battery, a club with separate ambitions and separate ownership.
Two players of particular interest are the HGP duo of Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin. We saw Carleton come on late against the Houston Dynamo on May 20 and start against Miami FC in the U.S. Open Cup last year, while appearing four times with the Battery. Goslin also appeared in the Open Cup against Miami, with his only other professional action in the form of 80 minutes against New York Red Bulls II during his own loan spell with Charleston.
During Atlanta's first preseason training session of 2018, Tata Martino provided a look at his plans for the duo this year.
Personally, the plan of having Carleton split time with the first and second team is a smart idea, because it at least ensures he has consistent playing time throughout the season whether it’s with Atlanta United or ATL UTD 2. The flip side is that in the showings he had with Atlanta last year, he looked pretty good, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have him with the first team full time. On the other hand, some reps with ATL UTD 2 will help continue to ease him along, because while it may be that he could be ready now, virtually guaranteed playing time with ATL UTD 2 is better than no playing time at all with the first team. That said, don’t be surprised to see him recalled by the first team on a more permanent basis toward the middle portion/last third of the season.
Goslin is a little bit more of a wild card because he doesn’t really get the same buzz as Carleton - that’s not to say that he’s a poor player, though. Letting him ply his trade down with the second team may be the best option for now, with the possibility existing of getting him first-team minutes at various points in the season if he does well.
In the end, Carleton is closer to contributing to the first team on a more consistent basis than Goslin is. The good news is that Atlanta United now have an outlet to give their HGPs and other young players time and space to truly develop in their own system. Can Carleton and Goslin make the most of their opportunities when those are presented to them? Time will tell.