(Via U.S. Soccer) – In their first year in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, Atlanta United FC U-15/16s are advancing to the 2017 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Final thanks to a 2-0 victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps U-15/16 side on Friday afternoon. Strikes from Andrew Carleton and Jackson Conway made the difference in the game, as both teams came in well-prepared and gave one another matchup difficulties.
“I was really pleased with the first half,” Atlanta United FC head coach Tony Annan said. “I thought we came out well and controlled the game. But they are a good team, you can’t take anything away from them at this level. You are always going to get a great game at this stage in the Development Academy, and it was a great game. I think we showed good resolve in our defending, not letting them get the ball and we dealt with their attack very well. And we managed to capitalize on a few attacks that we created in the second half. It was a good game for the Development Academy Semifinals.”
Homegrown forward Andrew Carleton got the scoring started for Atlanta in the 32′. Building up in the Vancouver backfield with several passes, switching the field, the ball finally met Alessandro Castro in the middle of the field. Castro moved the ball forward to a streaking Carleton, along the right side of the box. The forward then turned on a dime and curled his effort from right to left, beating the goalkeeper to the far side netting to create something out of nothing.
“To be in our first season and going to the National Championship, it’s honestly amazing and hopefully we’ll be able to win the final on Sunday,” Carleton said. “Everybody’s dream is to be able to play professional soccer on the first team, but also everybody’s dream is to win a national championship. I’m blessed that I’ll get the chance to do both.”
With four minutes remaining in regulation, Atlanta continued to search for a second goal to put the game on ice. Carleton was once again involved in the action, this time on the assisting end. After controlling a down-field throw in, with a defender on his back, Carleton quickly turned with the ball towards the sidelines and curled a 30-yard pass up the left side of the field for Jackson Conway. After taking a touch, Conway accelerated to draw out the Vancouver goalkeeper, and slotted the ball to the near post as soon as he sensed a slight commitment to cover the far post.
The goal would secure Atlanta United FC’s trip to the final, where two-time defending Development Academy Champions, FC Dallas await. Fans can tune into that game live on Sunday, July 16 at 3:30 p.m. PT on the Development Academy Facebook page.