Standings PTS GD GF GA
- Columbus Crew 3 +1 2 1
- Charleston Battery 1 0 1 1
- Seattle Sounders 1 0 1 1
- Atlanta United 0 -1 1 2
Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew
There was certainly a lot to break down in the opening match of the Carolina Challenge Cup. To wrap things up in a nice bow, Atlanta United started the match with plenty of purpose. Quick, precise passing led to a diving header goal by Josef Martinez off a Hector Villalba cross in the 6th minute.
However, the turning point of the match came in the 58th minute when Atlanta keeper Alec Kann’s attempted clearance deflected off of Crew’s Federico Higuain into the back of the net. United’s backline showcased their inexperience with one another only four minutes later, as a simple cross into the box left Higuain unmarked to complete his brace and the 2-1 win for Columbus.
Charleston Battery vs. Seattle Sounders
The nightcap pit the tournament hosts against the defending MLS Cup champions. The scoring began in the 32nd minute, as Sounders fullback Joevin Jones’ cross into the box deflected off of Battery center back Taylor Mueller for an own goal.
However, credit the USL side for coming out the second half determined to change the outcome. They were up to the task and, dare I say, outplayed their counterparts the last 45 minutes. Charleston’s efforts came to fruition on literally the last kick of the match, as trialist Kotaro Higashi’s initial shot ricocheted off the post, but fell directly to his feet to convert the followup shot and stun the MLS Cup champions in a 1-1 draw.
It’s important to note the inclusion of five Atlanta United players on the Battery’s roster for this match. Mikey Ambrose, Chris Goslin, Alexander Tambakis, Brandon Vazquez and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu all came on for Atlanta’s affiliate at the start of the second half. This was likely Tata Martino’s way of giving everyone a good bit of playing time while still allowing his preferred starters at least sixty minutes of action against the Crew. We’ll see if any of the five players end up on loan to Charleston for the remainder of the season.
For a more in-depth recap of the match, read up on the analysis from Black & Yellow Post’s Johnathan Ace.
Carolina Challenge Cup: Matchday Two
Charleston Battery vs Columbus Crew: 2/22, 5 p.m.
Atlanta United vs Seattle Sounders: 2/22, 7:30 p.m.