Atlanta United 2 makes its USL debut against New York Red Bulls 2 this Saturday night at Cool Ray Field in Gwinnett.
Because both these sides are MLS affiliates, teams will mainly field young talent planned to eventually make impact in Major League Soccer. Along with the young blood, fans will see more experienced players on the field.
Players such as Alec Kann who have not seen little to no minutes for the MLS side will have their opportunity to help the club by being leaders for the USL squad. This experience will be essential in playing a side who has been in USL since 2015.
“They’re experienced.” Head coach Scott Donnelly said. “A lot of their players have a lot of minutes in USL and that will be a challenge for our players who don’t have as much experience.”
While developing players is very important for Donnelly and the entire club, winning still remains the top priority. A small amount of MLS affiliates has found the correct balance of winning matches on the field and developing young players.
There is no better example of this balance than the New York Red Bulls. Fans were able to see the importance of a club’s USL squad in last week’s 4-0 Red Bull victory over the Portland Timbers.
Six of New York’s players previously saw minutes in the USL with Red Bulls 2. These players included Vincent Bezecourt, Sean Davis, Derrick Etienne Jr., Ben Mines, Tyler Adams, and Aaron Long.
Atlanta United technical staff are quick to point out the importance of a well-ran USL affiliate team.
“Atlanta United 2 is the fundamental link in our club’s vertical integration.” United VP Carlos Bocanegra said. “Connecting our academy teams to our first team.”
Scott Donnelly and players will attempt to get on the right foot that could potentially prove to be very beneficial for the present and future of Atlanta United.