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Atlanta USL side adds Ivy League Defender of Year who withdrew from MLS draft

Sep 10, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United fans march to Mercedes-Benz Stadium prior to the game against FC Dallas. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United FC will add a few players to its roster Friday by way of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, but the club also reinforced its United Soccer League Championship affiliate, plucking a goalkeeper from the Ivy League ranks.

ATL UTD 2 signed Dylan Castanheira, pending league and federation approval. As a senior at Columbia University in 2018, he was named Defender of the Year for the Ivy League after breaking the conference’s career record for goals-against average (0.513).

Castanheira was invited to the MLS Combine and was eligible to be drafted, but Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported last week that he skipped the combine and withdrew from the SuperDraft to sign with ATL UTD 2.

“We have followed Dylan for a while now and are excited to sign him to a professional contract with our club,” Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “He is one of the top goalkeeping prospects in the college game and we are happy to have him join Atlanta United.”

Castanheira, 23, assembled a career record of 33-10-4 while playing at Columbia and set the program record for clean sheets with 25 shutouts. He was an All-Ivy League Team selection three times. As a senior, he tallied 56 saves over 16 matches as the Lions went 10-5-1. As a junior, he helped Columbia make the NCAA tournament.

The 6-foot-2 goalkeeper from Landing, N.J., was ranked as the best player in the Ivy League and one of the 100 best players in college soccer this past season by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Before college, Castanheira trained with Stoke City of the English Championship and also played for Bristol City’s U-18 team.

Goalkeeper was a position of need for ATL UTD 2 after the club declined options on Nicolas Caraux and Mitch Hildebrandt, who combined for 15 appearances last season. Academy product Justin Garces also made two appearances between the pipes for the USL side last season, but he’s now playing college soccer at UCLA.

Castanheira joins Paul Christensen as the other goalkeeper on the ATL UTD 2 roster.

ATL UTD 2 will begin its second USL Championship season on March 9, hosting Hartford Athletic at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

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