United shuts Charleston out to move on to the fifth round of U.S. Open Cup
Atlanta United’s youth paid off during the U.S. Open Cup, where 17-year-old Andrew Carleton scored his first goal for the Atlanta United first team, followed by goals from 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco and 23-year-old Romario Williams for a 3-0 win against Charleston on Wednesday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw. The stadium hosted a record-breaking 9,742 fans, and the win pushes Atlanta to the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup. The U.S. Open Cup’s special roster limitations only allow five international players to compete in a single match, allowing Atlanta’s head coach Tata Martino to use the game to test a few secondary players.
The lineup featured seven different starters compared to the last game against Philadelphia, among them were the talented backup keeper Alec Kann, former Charleston Battery player Romario Williams, Sal Zizzo, Miles Robinson, Brandon Vasquez, Kevin Krats, Miles Robinson, and Carleton. Charleston started the game with high pressure on Atlanta’s defense, taking a few early chances and getting seven shots off before the end of the first half compared to Atlanta’s five. Carleton bagged a goal from just outside the eighteen, the first goal of the match and his first goal for Atlanta United’s senior team, within the first fifteen minutes of play. “I’m just very happy to get a goal and get a win,” said Carleton.
“We get to move on the next round, which is always exciting.” Alec Kann, who would no doubt be the starting keeper on a team without Brad Guzan, managed to keep a clean sheet despite a few close calls, once in the thirty-fifth minute when Charleston forward Ian Svantesson took a shot that just went over the crossbar, and again in the forty-fourth minute after a Charleston breakaway. In the first minute of the second half United managed to snag a penalty kick, taken by Barco, who neatly put it away in the left upper ninety Atlanta’s second goal. Man of the match Romario Williams, eager to score against his former team, took a left footed shot from the top of the eighteen that just barely slipped passed Charleston keeper Odisnel Cooper in the sixty-fifth minute for the final goal of the game.
Chris Goslin, another young player, made his debut on United’s first team coming in for Barco in the 86th minute. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, one of the more experienced players on the field for Atlanta, lead the team well enough to a victory. Atlanta seemed to falter the most with their timing, no doubt due to the new lineup. Players took just moments too when approaching the box and lost the space to shoot. It also seemed as if players misread their teammates runs, resulting in a few sloppy Atlanta turnovers. Atlanta United leads the MLS Eastern Conference with 29 points, closely followed by NYCFC with 27 points. United will face the number two team in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC on Saturday, June 9 at Yankee Stadium.
By Rebecca Washney