Atlanta United announced today it has signed Jackson Conway as a Homegrown Player, effective immediately. The forward led Atlanta United 2 in goals during the 2020 season.
“We’re happy to see Jackson’s continued development and it’s a complement to his hard work that he’s earned a First Team contract,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “Jackson is a great example of our club’s pathway to the professional level as he joined our Academy program prior to its first season with the dream of becoming an MLS player. He worked his way through our system and after excelling in the USL Championship last season, he deserves an opportunity at the next level.”
Conway joined Atlanta United’s Academy for its inaugural 2016-17 season and has continued to climb through the club’s ranks. After a prolific goal-scoring career in the Academy, including helping the U-16s win the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) National Championship in 2017, Conway turned professional and signed with ATL UTD 2 on Dec. 20, 2018.
Over the past two seasons, Conway has shown to be a consistent goal scorer at the USL Championship level. He scored five goals in his debut season in 2019. He followed that up by scoring six goals despite only 10 appearances during the shortened 2020 campaign. Prior to signing with ATL UTD 2, Conway had a prolific youth career, including scoring 26 goals for the U-17s during the 2017-18 USSDA season. He scored nine goals in 31 appearances during the 2016-17 season for the U-16s.
Players who join Major League Soccer through a club’s youth academy for at least one year, and have met the necessary training and retention requirements, can sign a professional contact as a Homegrown Player. This mechanism allows the team to retain its player without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft.
There is no limit to the number of Homegrown Players a club can sign each year. Players signed as Homegrowns are not counted against the team’s salary budget, but those who occupy a spot on a club’s Senior Roster (spots 1-20) do count against the club’s salary budget.
While other clubs have taken advantage of the label, Atlanta United hasn’t done much with its Homegrowns in the past. As a matter of fact, George Bello is the only original Homegrown player left with the club. Andrew Carleton, Lagos Kunga, Chris Goslin, and Patrick Okonkwo were all Homegrowns that either stayed with ATL UTD 2 or consistently sent on loan spells in the USL Championship. Three of the four players were U.S. Soccer name-stays that were never a part of Atlanta’s plans from the beginning. Because of this, we never heard a Kellyn Acosta, Alphonso Davies, Tyler Adams-like story. If Atlanta truly wants to turn things around, they have to look in their own backyard at their local talent. It’s slim, but there’s a chance Conway could provide that first step.
Goalkeepers (2): Brad Guzan, Alec Kann
Defenders (8): George Bello, George Campbell, Franco Escobar, Brooks Lennon, Fernando Meza, Efrain Morales*, Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes.
Midfielders (10): Mo Adams, Ezequiel Barco, Jürgen Damm, Jon Gallagher, Emerson Hyndman, Marcelino Moreno, Jake Mulraney, Eric Remedi, Matheus Rossetto, Tyler Wolff.
Forwards (4): Jackson Conway, Adam Jahn, Erik Lopez*, Josef Martinez
* – joins First Team effective Jan. 1, 2021