Atlanta United FC’s first-ever homegrown signing is getting a change of scenery.
The club announced Friday it is loaning Andrew Carleton to USL Championship side Indy Eleven for the entirety of the upcoming 2020 season.
Carleton, 19, has appeared in 11 Major League Soccer games with the Five Stripes over his three professional seasons. He has also featured in six U.S. Open Cup matches for the first team. In all, he has one goal and two assists in an Atlanta United kit.
“We believe it is time for Andrew to challenge himself in a new environment,” Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “We remain optimistic about his future and are looking forward to seeing what he will accomplish with Indy.”
Playing in the USL Championship will not be new for Carleton as he’s logged 33 appearances in the league since 2016 for the Charleston Battery and ATL UTD 2. In 29 appearances with ATL UTD 2, he has seven goals and four assists.
A native of Powder Springs, Georgia, Carleton is a versatile offensive talent who has played as a central forward, a second striker, an attacking midfielder and on the left and right wings.
Carleton was a heralded prospect when he made his Atlanta United debut in 2017, receiving a standing ovation from the fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Since then, he’s gone through a few difficult incidents with the club. In 2018, he was barred by the club from attending celebrations following its MLS Cup victory. In 2019, he was called out by head coach Frank de Boer and then publicly demoted to the second team.
But Carleton fought through it all and finished last season on a strong note, tallying five goals and two assists in 15 games with the second team, and then playing 42 minutes in Atlanta’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal win over rival Orlando City SC. He told Pro Soccer USA last season that he was focused on maturing and “learning how to be an adult.”
Carleton has also logged 44 appearances with United States youth national teams, scoring 25 goals. He appeared in two friendlies with the U-20 squad last season.
In a tweet he sent Friday, Carleton said he was “excited for this opportunity to show my God given ability and enjoy my soccer.”
In a statement, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie had nothing but praise for the youngster.
“Acquiring one of the most talented young Americans playing domestically speaks volumes to the caliber of squad we plan to field in 2020,” Rennie said. “Andrew’s attacking mindset, ability to score in different ways and vision make him a handful to deal with in the final third. We saw firsthand towards the end of last season that he can perform quite well at this level, and we’ll expect him to be a steady contributor for us this season.”
With Carleton, Indy now has 22 players on its roster ahead of the 2020 season. A season ago, the club finished third in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference table with a 19-6-9 record.