Atlanta United’s academy was only launched ahead of 2016, but they’re already drawing the admiration of world-renowned clubs such as Manchester United.
Efrain Morales, a 15-year-old with over 80 appearances for Atlanta's youth teams, has been identified by the Premier League giants and is set to leave this Saturday for a training stint. The experience came about through a mutual connection between the Five Stripes and Manchester United.
“You can’t turn those experiences down, especially when you are a developing a player,” Atlanta United academy director Tony Annan told Doug Roberson of The Atlanta Constitution-Journal. “It’s a bonus to our academy that we are producing players of that caliber.”
Should the training stint lead to anything more concrete, Morales could follow a quiet history of Americans at Manchester United. All-time great American goalkeeper Tim Howard and Jonathan Spector, Atlanta's head of international player recruitment and development, were both first-team players. Former FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper and fringe US men’s national team outside back Matthew Olosunde also spent time at the English side.
As of now, the club has left back George Bello, midfielder Andrew Carleton, forward Lagos Kunga and defender George Campbell as Homegrown Players on the roster. Just like the first team, their academy also trains and competes out of the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground located in Marietta, Ga.