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Atlanta United vs. Charleston Battery recap: Tito Villalba’s late goal wins it

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A fun match ends in interesting fashion.

Dave Williamson Photography

Atlanta United concluded their four-match preseason schedule with a 2-1 victory against the Charleston Battery in the final match of the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, SC. A late Tito Villalba goal sent the United fans home happy and sets up the club’s first ever season in style.

Tata Martino’s side got off their patented high intensity start and capitalized on the early pressure once again by taking the lead. Just six minutes into the match, Mikey Ambrose found Yamil Asad, who was deployed at striker, with a great cross and he finished off the post with a diving header.

Atlanta’s mainly reserve-filled lineup didn’t quite take hold of the match like their first-team counterparts did against Seattle, but they did well for the opening half of an hour.

The Battery began to get a foothold in the match in the later stages of the first half. Atlanta loanee, Romario Williams, evened the score just as the halftime whistle blew with a great individual effort. The Jamaican international collected possession in the middle of the field, ran past a couple of United defenders and fired a low strike from around 20 yards past trialist Kyle Reynish.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the play for most of the second half with Andrew Carleton’s flashes of brilliance accounting for Atlanta’s main attacking threats. Williams had the best chance of the second half, but his shot from around the penalty area about 10 minutes in went just high.

With nearly the last kick of the match, late substitute, Tito Villalba hammered in a loose ball to give Atlanta the win.

Preseason ends with three wins and a loss. Lessons have been learned. Legs have been stretched. Now it’s time for the real thing. Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.