Atlanta United started its academy in 2016. It is currently led by Tony Annan, a longtime fixture in Georgia soccer and one of the most respected developers of youth soccer in the country.
Efrain Morales, one of the players from the inaugural class on the under-12 team, will sign a Homegrown contract in January. He will get to train with the senior team and then will likely go to Atlanta United 2 to gain experience as a professional. If he succeeds, he will probably move up to the first team at some point. If he succeeds for the first team, who knows? Manchester United already had Morales at its training center earlier this year to get to know him.
Players don’t have to join Atlanta United’s academy as youngsters to find a path to the first team. Other players who have joined Atlanta United’s academy deeper into their youth careers and who signed Homegrown contracts are centerback George Campbell, who made his debut this year, and striker Tyler Wolff, who also made his debut. Campbell was once a member of Philadelphia’s academy. Wolff was once a member of Columbus’ academy.
“The kids are young and have to earn their place but we are really excited what the future holds,” Bocanegra said.