Amidst the news of #BarcoWatch hitting its climax and then coming to its thrilling conclusion, plenty of fans have been waiting for more news to come about the USL team, Atlanta United 2.
Getting a name to the people and a crest was step one, and step two was the naming of Scott Donnelly as the head coach. Naming Donnelly the head man confirms what many expected: that the USL club will be focusing on the growth of Atlanta’s homegrown stars today and in the future.
Donnelly has spent most of his career coaching at the college level, including being named head coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville before moving on to work with the U.S. U-17 men’s team. That would be the same team that featured Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Justin Garces.
The familiarity of Donnelly with the younger players surely played a role in his hiring, and his experience with younger players in general had to check many of the boxes that Eales and company were looking for.
Speaking of things they are looking for, the style of play will be interesting to see under Donnelly. While the formation may not always perfectly mirror The Five Stripes, it is important that ATLUTD2 practice the same philosophy on the field. Having your players have to shift gears going from USL to MLS would be pointless, after all.
As much as fans can see this hire as a way to grow future players for the club, the front office may also see this as an opportunity to see what Donnelly can bring to the club down the road. He is still pretty young despite his experience and can use this opportunity to show Atlanta and anyone else watching what he is capable of.
Given his success in the college game recruiting and developing talent, it will be interesting to see how much Donnelly is around the training grounds and how much impact he has on movement of talent from the academy to the USL club. Beyond Atlanta’s footprint he could also be vital in scouting talent that may have been overlooked by others that Atlanta will be able to use to fill out the USL roster.
We still don’t know what ATLUTD2 will look like on day one, but given the moves we have seen and what is to come, it will most likely be exciting to watch, if nothing else.