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ATL UTD 2 exercises options on five players, declines two

ATL UTD 2, the United Soccer League affiliate of Atlanta United FC, announced a slew of roster moves Friday.

The USL club exercised the options of five players, declined the options of two others and re-signed a veteran defender. Among those who had their options picked up by the club were midfielders Kevin Barajas and Laurent Kissiedou, defender Jack Metcalf, goalkeeper Paul Christensen and forward Yosef Samuel.

Kissiedou, 19, was the breakout star of this group in terms of offensive production, scoring three goals and drawing a team-high 41 fouls over 24 appearances. Christensen, 22, had a 1-6-3 record in goal and tallied 35 saves in 900 minutes played. He also appeared with the first team once.

The club declined the options for goalkeeper Nicolas Caraux and defender AJ Cochran.

Cochran, 25, is a former 2014 first round MLS SuperDraft pick by the Houston Dynamo. He led ATL UTD 2 in minutes played and often wore the captain’s armband. Cochran, often playing centerback, picked up two assists over 30 starts.

ATL UTD 2 also re-signed defender Tyler Ruthven, a native of Alpharetta, Ga., who signed with the club in August. Ruthven’s contract expired at the end of the season, but ATL UTD 2 has signed him to a new one that will keep the local in black and red stripes. He played in four games with the club.

ATL UTD 2 elected to not re-sign Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Shawn Nicklaw and Devon Sandoval, whose contracts also expired. Additionally, forward Rodolfo Freitas da Silva’s loan expired at the conclusion of the season and he will return to Palmeiras, a Brazilian club.

Sandoval scored three goals with the club across 25 appearances. Nicklaw scored once and started 12 games. Kendall-Moullin started 22 games.

Midfielder Alessandro Castro and forward Diego Lopez both remain under contract for the 2019 season, bringing the total roster to eight.

In its inaugural season, ATL UTD 2 finished with a 7-17-10 record under the direction of head coach Scott Donnelly. The team finished its first season on a four-game unbeaten streak.

Along with the players mentioned, the club also mixed in players from the first team, the MLS SuperDraft and Atlanta United’s academy. Players like Jose Hernandez, Chris Goslin, John Gallagher, Miles Robinson, Oliver Shannon, Andrew Carleton, Justin Garces, George Bello and Lagos Kunga often starred for the USL side.

The club fielded 40 different players in 2018, a group that included 18 teenagers, 10 of which were Atlanta United academy players making their professional debuts. The average age for ATL UTD 2’s roster was 21.8 years old, the fifth youngest of the 33-team league.

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