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Atlanta academy director to coach MLS Homegrown Team vs. Tigres UANL

Tony Annan, Atlanta United FC's academy director, will coach the MLS Homegrown Team against Liga MX side Tigres UANL U-20 on July 31 in Marietta, Ga. (PHOTO: ATLANTA UNITED)

(Courtesy of Major League Soccer)

With the Major League Soccer All-Star game coming to Atlanta later this summer, more events are coming with it.

MLS announced Tuesday the league’s young and future stars will play in the MLS Homegrown Game July 31 against Tigres UANL, the reigning champions of Liga MX’s Under-20 division.

The game will be played at Atlanta United FC’s training grounds in nearby Marietta, Ga. at 8 p.m. Coaching the homegrowns will be Tony Annan, the academy director for Atlanta United.

For the first time ever, the match will be streamed live on Twitter, in addition to being aired on Univision.

Annan has helped build Atlanta’s academy from the ground up and brings more than 20 years of youth development experience to the match. He is one of only six coaches to hold licenses from the U.S. Soccer Academy Director’s Course and the Elite Formation Coaching License course. He coached Atlanta’s U-17 squad to a national title in the first year of the program.

“It’s exciting. It’s a great thing for the players, for the young guys in the league to play such a great team with some tradition and history. I think it will be a really good challenge for the young guys who are selected to play,” Annan said. “I’m honored to be selected and asked to do it. It’s a big privilege for me. It was a nice surprise.”

Several Atlanta United homegrowns have seen playing time in MLS and the United Soccer League this season, such as Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin, Lagos Kunga, Patrick Okonkwo and George Bello. Carleton and Goslin both played in last year’s homegrown game.

Tony Annan, Atlanta United FC’s academy director, will coach the MLS Homegrown Team against Liga MX side Tigres UANL U-20 on July 31 in Marietta, Ga. (PHOTO: ATLANTA UNITED)

For MLS, more than 150 homegrown players have signed professional contracts with the league’s clubs. In the past year, 13 homegrown players have been called to the international level, representing the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The MLS Homegrown Game began in 2014 and the MLS side has never won, garnering two losses and two draws.

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground hosted a handful of preseason matches for ATL UTD 2, the club’s USL affiliate, this year.

“It’s one of the greatest facilities in, not only the U.S., but across the world,” Annan said. “I think a lot of pro clubs have been through here and been very impressed with what we have and the investment made in Atlanta. I think Tigres will be very impressed with the facilities.”

The “show pitch” has seating for 2,500 people, along with standing room. The grounds span across 33 acres and feature six fields, seven locker rooms, sport science facilities, a full-service kitchen and a 30,000 square-foot building that houses Atlanta United’s headquarters.

Tickets for the game begin at $15 and are on-sale now at Ticketmaster.com. The MLS All-Star Game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 1 against Italian Serie-A side Juventus

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