Atlanta United is coming off of a home win and will look to find a victory by opening a second front in the season on Wednesday night. The team will host the Charleston Battery in Kennesaw, Georgia in the historic US Open Cup. It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams counting both of the games in the Carolina Challenge Cup in 2017 and 2018 as well as the thrilling United win in the Open Cup last year. It will be a good opportunity for Atlanta United to give some minutes to players who don’t typically play with the first team and will be the team’s first chance to win some hardware in 2018.
Anyway, onto the Prekrap...
Gauging the Battery
Charleston is in the 4th round of the USOC thanks to a 1-0 win over the Elm City Express of the Elm City (that’s New Haven, Connecticut). This week Neveal Hackshaw and company will visit Kennesaw and look to get past Atlanta and onto the next round of the tournament. The Battery was off over the weekend after coming off of a stretch of six games in 18 days as they prepare to face Atlanta. Over that time, the team was undefeated with three wins and three draws.
To keep their unbeaten streak going, the team will have to rely on leading scorer Ataulla Guerra. The forward has seven goals in 12 games and alongside Gordon Wild, who has a pair of assists and three goals on the season, is a major asset in playmaking and creating chances for his temporary club. While Forrest Lasso decamped for FC Cincinnati, Taylor Mueller, another center back will be looking to keep Atlanta United contained.
For the most part, Charleston will need to hold out against the Five Stripes attack and hope to either get a goal on a counter or set piece. Last year in the team’s meeting in the Atlanta suburbs, the battery showed a lot of fight and was not intimidated by the firepower of their MLS rivals. Coach Mike Anhaeuser has seen a lot in his 13 years as head coach of the team and should have them ready for the match especially with a full weekend to prepare for the game.
More wild times in Kennesaw?
Last year it took more time than Tata Martino would have liked for his first choice players to put the Battery away. Atlanta will again look to give some players who don’t typically get starts time on the pitch against the second division side while the team prepares for NYCFC this weekend. That could mean that Martino starts Andrew Carleton, Brandon Vazquez, and Romario Williams or that they make early appearances as substitutes. In any case, look for the Five Stripes to try and dominate possession against Charleston. The team will need to make the most of its chances and put away their opponents early in the match.
The game will be a good test for the depth that Atlanta has built in the offseason and show how well Tata can incorporate it into his team. So far in 2018, the United manager has moved players in and out of the lineup more frequently than he did last season. That depth and the roles that players have on the team will be on display Wednesday night.