MARIETTA, Ga. — As the MLS Homegrown Team bus pulled up to the sparkling and pristine Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground Sunday afternoon, an air of excitement (and envy) came over MLS’s top prospects gazing out the windows.
“But yeah,” he added with a laugh. “The training ground is sick and I think they all are pretty impressed with it.”
Atlanta United’s training ground is a splendid sight to behold, and in a way, represents something larger than the sum of its parts.
The facility sits on a 33-acre site featuring a 30,000 sq. foot headquarters and six full-size fields, including three natural grass pitches and three FieldTurf surfaces. Aside from the elegant first team locker room and fields, the facility houses six different academy locker rooms, a full service kitchen and dining room with balcony access, state-of-the-art sports science facilities with two hydrotherapy pools, and perhaps most importantly this week, a show pitch with a 2,500-seat capacity that will host Tuesday’s 2018 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer.
“I'm speechless,” said LA Galaxy 16-year-old phenom Efrain Alvarez. “I think this is the best [training facility] I've ever been to. I've been to Barcelona and stuff, and I think this is by far the best.”
Atlanta Academy Director and Manager of the MLS Homegrowns Tony Annan spoke with a sense of pride after the teams first training at the facility Sunday about his regular place of work.
“There were a few who came here and wanted to just look around — pretty in awe of the facility. And they should be; it’s a beautiful facility!” Annan joked. “There are some that play in some excellent facilities themselves, but there were a few jaws dropped for sure.”
Carleton was excited to spend some more time with the group after training as they’d have a chance to check out the city. By all accounts, Carleton plays a fine host.
“I had to give them a little tour of the training ground when we got here," Carleton said. "We've only been in Atlanta for a couple hours now, but I'm sure I'll get a chance to show a few of the guys around a little bit and get to know Atlanta a little better.”