Atlanta United signs Chol as Homegrown player

August 29, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United players sit with social distance during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, August 29, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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August 29, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United players sit with social distance during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, August 29, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Atlanta United signed Machop Chol as a Homegrown player, the club announced Tuesday.

Chol, a refugee from Sudan, played at Southwest DeKalb High School. He came to Atlanta United’s attention by walking on to the tryouts at LakePoint Park in 2016. Projected as a winger in MLS, Chol was a member of the team’s first Academy class with the U-18 team before he signed with Wake Forest. Chol, 22, scored 13 goals with 17 assists for the Deacons from 2017-20.

Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said Chol likely would have been a top-15 pick in Thursday’s MLS draft had he not signed with Atlanta United.

“He was very raw when he came into our academy,” Bocanegra said. “He’s a little bit of a late bloomer. His strength, fitness, understanding of starting points and tactically on the field has improved. Our academy is starting to produce players that go through college system.”

Chol trained with Atlanta United in the weeks before its final Champions League game against Club America in December.

“He did a great job and held his own with players out there,” Bocanegra said.

After Jackson Conway, Chol is the second Homegrown signing completed during this offseason. They join a group that includes past signees Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Lagos Kunga, Patrick Okonkwo, George Bello, George Campbell, Tyler Wolff and Efrain Morales.