ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Atlanta United 2 FC head coach Jack Collison has appointed midfielder Robbie Mertz as the leader of the team in the 2022 United Soccer League (USL) Championship season.
Collison said Mertz who re-signed with the team last December 14 is the perfect leader for his squad since he is very competitive and hard-working.
“Probably the biggest thing that stands out to me about Robbie is whenever he loses in training, you can’t talk to him for at least 15, 20 minutes,” Collison said.
“And that competitiveness just reminds me of how I was as a player,” Collison added.
Mertz started 26 of his 28 appearances in the USL Championship in 2021 and tallied one goal and a team-high five assists while finishing second on the team with 43 chances created.
Mertz, 25, joined Atlanta United 2 on Jan. 12, 2021, after two seasons with USL Championship club Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. He was selected by the Colorado Rapids with the 76th overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft before signing with Riverhounds SC.
The Pittsburgh native tallied 12 goals and eight assists in 48 appearances across all competitions during his two years with his hometown club.
Mertz attended the University of Michigan where he played four years from 2015-18. With the Wolverines, Mertz totaled 76 games played, nine goals, and 12 assists. During his junior and senior campaigns, he was named United Soccer Coaches All-North Region and All-Big Ten. In 2019, he was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor, an award presented for academic and athletic achievement.
Earlier, the team has also signed Atlanta United Academy midfielder David Mejia, pending league and federation approval.
Aside from boosting its USL Championship 2022 campaign, the move to sign Mejia is also seen as a way to reward homegrown players who have played exceptionally well for the team for the past years.
Mejia made 26 appearances and eight starts for Atlanta United 2 over the past two seasons, recording five goals and one assist. He made 10 appearances with one start in 2020, scoring three goals and adding an assist in 198 minutes. Mejia then started seven of his 16 appearances in 2021 and scored two goals in 681 minutes. Mejia made his professional debut on July 19, 2020, against Memphis 901 and scored his first goal on July 30, 2020, against Miami FC.
Mejia, 18, joined the Atlanta United Academy in August of 2018 when his family moved from Jacksonville, Florida to the Atlanta area. The Lima, Peru native made 24 appearances with the U-17s that season. He has spent the past two seasons with the U-19s as well as Atlanta United 2.
United 2 FC is hoping to have a great USL Championship campaign next year since it is their last appearance in the league.
According to reports, United 2 FC will transfer to the Major League Soccer NEXT Pro in 2023.
The new league’s goal is to create an “integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams” by serving as a bridge from the Academies into the professional system.
The league is scheduled to debut in March 2022.