Atlanta United signs Garces to Homegrown contract

India's Komal Thatal kicks the ball as U.S goalkeeper Justin Garces jumps to block it during their FIFA U-17 World Cup match in New Delhi, India, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
caption arrowCaption
India's Komal Thatal kicks the ball as U.S goalkeeper Justin Garces jumps to block it during their FIFA U-17 World Cup match in New Delhi, India, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

Credit: AP

Atlanta United signed goalkeeper Justin Garces to a Homegrown contract, announcing the acquisition on Monday. The contract includes options through the 2024 season.

Garces, 21, spent the past four years at UCLA after playing briefly with Atlanta United 2 in 2018 and the U19s in the academy in 2017-18.

“Justin is someone we are very excited about bringing back to the club,” Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement from the club. “We saw the raw talent he had when he came through our Academy and made some appearances at the USL level. He has really progressed over the last four years after playing at a top program like UCLA. He has a great frame and is comfortable with the ball at his feet. We are excited to see him continue his development with our club.”

He has appeared for U.S. youth national teams several times at various levels.

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With the Bruins, Garces appeared in 57 games and had a save percentage of 64.7 with a goals-allowed-per-game average of 1.58. He was named to the Pac-12 Conference second team in 2021.

Garces will be the third goalkeeper on Atlanta United’s roster behind Brad Guzan and Dylan Castanheira.

Garces said he’s looking forward to learning from Guzan, whom he trained with when he was with the academies and a few times during summers when he returned from college.

“He’s just a great guy to be around and training and, you know, seeing how he trains and the effort that you put in day in and day out, along with his performances in the matches,” Garces said.

Garces said the most important thing for him is to continue to get minutes. That will most likely happen with Atlanta United 2.

“I‘m starting up and I want to be able to learn as much as I can and get as much experience as I can to get to the position that I want to be in my professional career,” he said. “That’s going to take time, and it’s going to take a lot of work.”

He said while at UCLA he improved his ability to play out of the back, something that Atlanta United and Atlanta United 2 also do. Garces said he tries to model his game after Liverpool’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson, two of the best in the world with the ball at their feet. Garces said he wants to continue to develop that skill and hopes it’s something else he can learn from Guzan.

Garces also noted that playing opponents with different styles in the Pac-12 helped him develop during the past four years.

Other Homegrown signings on the roster include fullback George Bello, centerbacks George Campbell, Bryce Washington and Efrain Morales, midfielders Machop Chol and Tyler Wolff and striker Jackson Conway. Past Homegrown signings who are no longer with the team include Andrew Carleton, Patrick Okonkwo, Chris Goslin and Lagos Kunga.

Atlanta United’s roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Dylan Castanheira, Justin Garces, Brad Guzan.

Defenders (10): Mikey Ambrose, George Bello, George Campbell, Alex De John, Alan Franco, Andrew Gutman, Brooks Lennon, Efrain Morales, Miles Robinson, Bryce Washington.

Midfielders (11): Osvaldo Alonso, Ezequiel Barco, Jürgen Damm, Emerson Hyndman, Franco Ibarra, Marcelino Moreno, Jake Mulraney, Matheus Rossetto, Amar Sejdic, Santiago Sosa, Tyler Wolff.

Forwards (5): Luiz Araújo, Machop Chol, Jackson Conway, Erik López, Josef Martínez.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas