Atlanta, which is joining the MLS this year as an expansion team, began its partnership with the Battery of the USL last year.
“Our mutually-beneficial partnership with Charleston made perfect sense for us to continue,” said Atlanta United president Darren Eales. “Our players were able to gain valuable professional experience last season and we look forward to having the opportunity to utilize the partnership even more in 2017 with having a full roster.”
The two clubs partnered in January of 2016, allowing some of Atlanta’s first signings to continue their development with the USL club. Per league rules, every established MLS club had to secure a USL partner before the start of the 2015 season. For Atlanta, last year’s partnership proved to be beneficial, despite the fact Atlanta would not play competitive MLS games for another year. Five current Atlanta United players spent time with the Battery last season.
“We’re excited to extend our partnership with Atlanta for the 2017 season,” said Charleston Battery President Andrew Bell. “They sent us some quality players who did well here last year. They’ll have a full roster for the 2017 season, so we’re expecting another successful year.”
Atlanta’s first signing, goalkeeper Alex Tamabakis started 21 matches for Charleston, including both playoff games. He finished seventh in USL with 70 saves and was also tied for fifth in save percentage (min. 15 games played). Homegrown signings Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin also received valuable professional experience. After signing with Atlanta in June, Carleton became the youngest American professional soccer player to start a match in USL on Sept. 10. Overall, Carleton appeared in three regular season games also made an appearance in the playoffs. Goslin also trained with the club and made an appearance in a friendly. 18-year-old forward Jeffrey Otoo also signed with Atlanta in June and made five appearances for Charleston. Finally, forward Romario Williams, who Atlanta United traded for on Dec. 11, led Charleston with 10 goals during the season.
In February, Atlanta will take part in the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup, which is hosted by Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium. The two clubs are scheduled for a preseason match on Saturday, Feb. 25. Atlanta will also play Columbus Crew SC on Feb. 18 and defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders FC on Feb. 22.
Image courtesy Charleston Battery.