On Saturday, the I-85 clash kicked off when the sides’ Under-17 and Under-15 academy teams faced each other at Bank of America Stadium, the future home of the MLS team.
Charlotte started strong with a 3-2 win at the U-17 age group. They found a game-winner in the 79th minute through Brayden Keenan (seen below) after Bryce Swinehart and Samy Kolby both scored in the first half.
In the U-15 age group, though, it was Atlanta United who came out on top with a 5-3 victory, despite Charlotte going in front inside the first minute.
“This is going to be an amazing experience for our players to be able to play on Charlotte FC’s home pitch and is indicative of the type of opportunities we strive to provide through our academy,” Charlotte FC technical director Marc Nicholls said in a club statement before the games. “We know that the rivalry with Atlanta United will be important to our fans and I’m excited that our academy players get the first chance to get the rivalry started.”
Both the Atlanta United and Charlotte FC academies are founding members of MLS NEXT, the new elite youth development platform developed in collaboration with Major League Soccer and youth academies around the US and Canada.