The major league Atlanta United soccer team is starting a new expansion team that will play in Gwinnett County next year.
The Gwinnett Braves baseball team will share Coolray Field with Atlanta United’s new Division II team.
Like us on Facebook
Starting in March, Coolray Field will transform from a baseball field to a stadium for soccer matches.
“If you know anything about Gwinnett, you know two things – we have a very large population of almost a million people, and it’s a very diverse international population that call Gwinnett home that were raised watching soccer,” said Stan Hall, executive director of the Gwinnett Sports Commission.
Hall said that’s why Atlanta United’s new minor league team can expect to attract many of Gwinnett County’s soccer fans to come out to watch the new team play.
“We’ve always had our eye out for any second sports discipline that would fit without interrupting the Gwinnett Braves, who, you know, have been our tenant since we opened the doors seven or eight years ago,” Hall said.
Chris Winkler with Atlanta United said the Division II team will be part of the United Soccer League or USL. Winkler said the USL can be compared to the minor leagues.
“It’s kind of like that path to the pros, if you will, that goes from Academy to United Soccer League to Major League Soccer,” Winkler said.
More than 30 Major League Soccer teams have a USL team.
Winkler explained players on Atlanta United can be “loaned” to the USL team and still stay on the MLS roster.
“You might have players on your first team, on your MLS team, who might need playing time, whether they’re injured or whether they just haven’t been starting,” Winkler said. “The other option is for your younger players, 17, 18 years old who are trying to break through to the MLS level. This is a way now they can play every single game at the USL level.”
Winkler said all of the teams and youth academies will continue to train at Atlanta United’s headquarters in Marietta.
The team’s new name has not yet been announced.