The Open Cup Can Show Fans the Future

Jarrett Smith
June 06, 2018 - 2:06 pm

© Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup game will present Atlanta United fans with a unique viewing opportunity.

The Five Stripes are in the middle of a compressed schedule with some of the most difficult away matches in the country on the horizon. Even if Wednesday’s match against the Charleston Battery was not a U.S. Open Cup match it would probably be a candidate for a small amount of squad rotation, but as fate would have it Atlanta will be using a fair number of players who do not often start and surely some Atlanta United 2 players in the match.

These players are a nice blend of veterans who make a squad go from good to great and young players who are trying to make their case for top billing in the future. They’ll show you some impressive skills that you may not always expect and they are bound to have a few surprises up their sleeves.

Beyond those surprises, the younger players can give fans an idea of what the gameday 18 might look like in the next few years.

Players like Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin have generated hype and visibility before but Atlanta United 2 has given a bigger platform for players like Lagos Kunga, Yosef Samuel and Laurent Kissiedou to show that they belong as they move from the Atlanta United Academy to first team viability. Younger academy players like Kendall Edwards, Will Crain and Jackson Conway are still bit further away but they’ll be in this position perhaps next year.

Draftees such as Jon Gallagher, Oliver Shannon and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu may very well get a chance to prove they belong in future plans as well.

Nothing lasts forever and soccer, not unlike college football and...well every other sport,  requires attention to the future as well as the present.

To focus just on the present and ignore future plans is the court chaos and fate. There’s no reason to do it, and especially no reason to lean only on a free agent market when the club can develop players in your system and insert them when ready.

Atlanta remains a rather young squad even with veterans like Jeff Larentowicz and Michael Parkhurst (Brad Guzan is 33 but keepers age differently than everyone else).That said there will always be suitors in the summer and the off seasons of the future who make a play for some of Atlanta’s stars but arguably more importantly some of their depth pieces.

Players like Kevin Kratz, Chris McCann and Mikey Ambrose have proven that they can more than hold their own in MLS and there is always the chance someone like Julian Gressel could be courted after his development into a dangerous wingback.

It is irrational to think the club will keep the same roster year after year and the growth of players at Atlanta United 2 is vital to restocking the shelves, so to speak.

The next shipment of players is coming and some of them will be in the form of potential stars while others may be in the form of depth pieces to fill out a roster and make plays when their number is called.

No matter their role, Wednesday night is a great chance to see what Atlanta United has in store down the line and if the occasional glimpses they have shown us are any indication, fans cound be in for a wild ride.



 

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