While important parts of Atlanta United’s present will be a part of the MLS All-Stars that will take on Real Madrid in Chicago on Wednesday, its future will play Tuesday.
Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin, Atlanta United’s first two Homegrown Player signings, will be part of the 18-man roster that will take on the Chivas U-20 squad at Toyota Park on Tuesday.
“It’s an honor to be here to be among the best Homegrown Players in the league, and represent the league and represent Atlanta,” Carleton, a native of Powder Springs, said.
Carleton, 17, has one appearance for the Five Stripes in a league game this season, logging four minutes in the 4-0 win over Houston at Bobby Dodd Stadium. He has been included the 18 for three other matches, and also played 90 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup at Miami. Carleton didn’t look like a teenager trying to compete against grown men in that loss. His aggressiveness led to a penalty kick that tied that game at 2.
Goslin, a native of Locust Grove, made the 18 for both of Atlanta United’s games in the U.S. Open Cup, but he has yet to play. Still, he has shown enough to be part of the U.S. U-17 national team that is training for the World Cup in India later this year.
“It’s been great,” Goslin said. “It’s our first season. Our first Homegrown game. We’re both really excited. It’s been a real honor to get called up.”
They will be part of a team on Tuesday that includes Sporting KC’s Erik Palmer-Brown and Real Salt Lake’s Brooks Lennon, among others. Carleton said many of the players on the roster have played together previously on national teams
They will face a Chivas team that won LIGA MX U-20 title in May. Five players from the team competed for Mexico in the U-20 World Cup.
“It’s going to be a really tough game,” Goslin said. “They’ve been a team longer and won their league. It’ll be really hard. But we have a really good group and it’ll be a really good game.”
That Homegrown talent pipeline is important for most club teams, but is very important in MLS, which features a salary cap and rules that can complicate player acquisitions. Teams can’t just go out and buy someone they may want or need.
There are 78 Homegrown Players currently signed by the 22 MLS teams this season, according to the league. Former Homegrown Players contributing to MLS teams this season include Seattle’s Jordan Morris, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid, New England’s Juan Agudelo and Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta.
Homegrown Players totaled more than 54,000 minutes last season, which was more than four times the total in 2011.
In addition to Carleton and Goslin, Atlanta United has announced that three more of its Academy players, Lagos Kunga, George Bello, and Patrick Okonkwo, will sign Homegrown Player contracts in January. It’s the next step in the journeys as professionals that may include playing in an All-Star game. Atlanta United’s Michael Parkhurst, Miguel Almiron and Greg Garza will play on Wednesday.
“Nice to have guys like Parkie and a couple of Homegrowns,” Carleton said. “Shows there’s a good amount of vets on the club and a good amount of youth coming through the club. The club’s dynamic is well and they’ve set the team up well.”
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