Atlanta United signs Caleb Wiley to Homegrown deal

A wall comprised of Atlanta United 2's Aiden McFadden (2), Chris Allan (8), Bradley Kamdem Fewo (6) and Caleb Wiley (13) attempt to block a penalty kick by Oklahoma City Energy's Jonathan Brown (17) during a USL Championship match Sunday, May 16, 2021, at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Credit: Steven Christy

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A wall comprised of Atlanta United 2's Aiden McFadden (2), Chris Allan (8), Bradley Kamdem Fewo (6) and Caleb Wiley (13) attempt to block a penalty kick by Oklahoma City Energy's Jonathan Brown (17) during a USL Championship match Sunday, May 16, 2021, at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Credit: Steven Christy

Atlanta United announced early Tuesday that it signed Academy player Caleb Wiley to a Homegrown contract.

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Wiley, 17 years old, is a left back who recently played for the U.S. Under-20 national team. He played in 22 games for Atlanta United 2 last season, logging 1,877 minutes, which was fifth most on the team. He had 71 crosses, 33 key passes and two assists. He has 33 appearances for Atlanta United 2 in the past two seasons.

“It’s a dream come true,” Wiley said. “I’ve always wanted this ever since I came here. And to finally get to finally get here and be a part of this team is amazing.”

Wiley joins a group of left backs that includes George Bello, a target of clubs in Europe, and Andrew Gutman, who spent the past season on loan with the New York Red Bulls.

Wiley is a member of Atlanta United’s Under-12 class in the first year of its academy. He played at Decatur-DeKalb YMCA Soccer Club. He said he began to realize at 13 that professional soccer may be an opportunity for him. He said he rarely took days off as he tried to do everything he could to turn that opportunity into a probability.

“It was lots of hard work,” he said. “And just putting my head down grinding every single day. And like I said, I wanted to so badly that I’d works like 10 times harder.”

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Wiley first trained with the first team before its Champions League game against Club America in December at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He described that as a rough experience because of the speed of play. He trained more with the team after Gonzalo Pineda took over midway through last season.

“You can you can certainly see why the excitement is there, and why the talk is around him as a young player that is now breaking in with the first team,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “And as that happens, there’ll be more demands and more questions being asked of him in terms of individual performances, and his ability, obviously, to get forward, understand the game. It’s exciting for a kid his age. But now the challenge is to take it up to another level in terms of first-team football.”

Other Homegrown signings on the roster include fullback 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 and Brad Guzan.

Defenders (12): Mikey Ambrose, Bello, George Campbell, Alex De John, Alan Franco, Gutman, Ronald Hernandez, Brooks Lennon, Efrain Morales, Miles Robinson, Bryce Washington and Caleb Wiley.

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

Forwards (5): Luiz Araújo, Machop Chol, Jackson Conway, Erik López and 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

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE