Atlanta United’s Caleb Wiley will play for U.S. in Olympics

Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley (26) celebrates with the fans after scoring his team’s second goal during the second half against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, April 14, 2024.
 Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley (26) celebrates with the fans after scoring his team’s second goal during the second half against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, April 14, 2024. Miguel Martinez /

Caleb Wiley remembers watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics with his family in Morningside, thinking what a dream it would be to one day represent his country.

Twelve years later, Wiley is going to get that opportunity.

Wiley, a fullback for Atlanta United, was called into the U.S. men’s soccer team on Monday that will compete in the Paris Olympics.

“It definitely feels like a dream,” he said.

Wiley will leave Atlanta United to join the team after Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Indy Eleven. Men’s soccer in the Paris Games is scheduled to start July 24, and the gold medal match is scheduled to be played Aug. 9. The U.S. is scheduled to play France in Marseille on July 24, New Zealand in Marseille on July 27 and Guinea on July 30 in Saint-Etienne.

Though just 19 years old, Wiley already has 80 appearances with Atlanta United, and more than 100 when including his time with Atlanta United 2.

Wiley said he never said anything to his family while watching the 2012 Games about one day competing for the U.S. But as he rose through Atlanta United’s academy system, and began to represent the U.S. at various levels, including an appearance for the senior team, he said he began to think about the possibility.

“I think it’s awesome, I’m really proud of him,” Atlanta United interim manager Rob Valentino said. “He’s worked hard to get to this moment and it just starts now. He’s got to go and prove himself to them playing the games and be a contributing member of that team.”

Wiley said he doesn’t have any personal goals other than to help the team. He said a good performance would boost his confidence because he would be playing on a world stage. He thinks its realistic to expect to win a gold medal. The U.S. hadn’t qualified for the Olympics since 2008. It has never finished higher than fourth. Lawrenceville’s Walker Zimmerman and former Atlanta United player Miles Robinson were also selected.

“In previous camps, we’ve talked about, we want to be the first team to win a medal,” he said. “I believe we have a team to do that. It’s gonna be a challenge to me, a good test, but I think everyone’s open and ready for it.”

There are concurrent threads with Wiley’s possible participation with the U.S. in the Summer Games. There is reported interest from Chelsea in signing him. A good performance and result in the Olympics could cement the English power’s interest and increase Wiley’s transfer value for Atlanta United. He said he’s trying not to think about those possibilities.

“I’ve tried to just kind of stay present with myself and not think about the outside world and what’s going on in the media,” he said. “And when I go there, I just want to enjoy the moment and create the most memories as I can. So that’s kind of my goal.”

Wiley won’t get the whole Olympics experience. Because of soccer’s schedule in the games, the U.S. men’s soccer team won’t be able to walk with their countrymates during the opening ceremonies. He likely won’t get to walk in the closing ceremonies either. His parents are planning their trip to go and watch him, though.

If he gets the opportunity, he said he wants to watch the U.S. men’s basketball team play.

“I think that would be a very surreal moment to see them play,” he said.

He would also like to see Simone Biles. Wiley said he was did gymnastics in summer camps so he has appreciation for their skills.

“There’s lots of lots of people that it would be pretty cool to go see,” he said.

Other than a medal, there is one thing that Wiley is considering bringing back as a souvenir: a tattoo of the five rings, which is something that many Olympians have done. Interestingly, he said his grandparents mentioned it.

“Depending on how we do, okay, yeah, it might be a thought,” he said.

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