ATLANTA - Andrew Carleton turned 16 this week, but even before he could drive, he had already become Atlanta's newest hometown hero. Carleton signed with Atlanta's new MLS soccer team Atlanta United and became an instant celebrity.
"I've wanted to play pro my whole life, but when the release was made [announcing Atlanta's MLS team], I knew that was what I wanted to do," says Carleton. "Coaches, players, parents have all contacted me through Twitter or text message or came up in person. I even had a few people randomly come over to my house and say congratulations."
Carleton may have to increase his security if he continues on his current trajectory. Now he is playing with Georgia United's U18 team and he also plays for the US National team program and his team is qualifying for the U17 World Cup.
"He's got some special gifts and some talent," says Dave Smith, Carelton's coach with Georgia United. "He's humble and he works harder than everybody else."
Although he's humble, Carleton is not boring to watch. "I bring flare and excitement and I hope to bring smiles to the fans faces," says Carleton.
Atlanta United will play its inaugural season in 2017. Until then, Carleton will play some games with the club's United Soccer League partner team, the Charleston Battery.