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Three thoughts on Atlanta United’s U.S. Open Cup fourth round win over Charleston Battery

Atlanta made sure there was little drama in its rematch against the Battery. Here are three observations from Wednesday night’s victory.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Charleston Battery vs Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Romario Williams was the clear choice for man of the match

Clearly, the top player of the match for either side was Williams, making his first start with Atlanta’s first team. He was active in the attack all evening long against a Battery squad he knew very well: he came close to scoring in the first half, while later drawing a penalty very early in the second and capping Atlanta’s night with a pretty goal in the 64th to put the hosts up 3-0. Williams noted afterwards that he could have done a little more with some chances thrown his way, but in the end, it was a strong performance from the Jamaican, and with more time on the field, he’ll only get better.

Andrew Carleton looked very good in his performance

It was a great night for the 17-year-old Homegrown Player as he lasered the opening goal of the match past Odisnel Cooper just before the quarter-hour mark. It was a rather straightforward finish for Carleton as he showed a striker’s instinct in making use of the space afforded him by the Battery defense, netting his first goal in a competitive match for Atlanta United. Carleton’s seen minutes with ATL UTD 2 this year while showing up in the team sheet for the past few league matches for the big club, but on Wednesday, he made a good campaign for himself to get more first-team minutes more frequently.

Atlanta United’s victory without its primary players on the field was an important one

While we did see some familiar faces like Franco Escobar, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Ezequiel Barco, Julian Gressel and Kevin Kratz get starts, Atlanta’s regulars had the night off. Darlington Nagbe and Miguel Almiron were in the 18 but were never going to see time on the field unless the result was in doubt in the latter stages of the match. Others, like Jeff Larentowicz, Josef Martinez and Michael Parkhurst were left off the team sheet altogether. That opened the door for players like Williams, Carleton, Sal Zizzo, Brandon Vazquez, and Miles Robinson to fill the gaps.

Tata Martino noted that last year around this time, the team was rather thin and were forced to use players like Martinez and Almiron to pull out a win against Charleston - especially with the Battery striking early and eventually taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room. This time around, though, he had the luxury of resting some key members of his squad ahead of a league match at NYCFC as the team enjoyed a much more comfortable result. We’ll have to see which names get called on in the round of 16 against the Chicago Fire, but if the team can keep winning in the competition without its bigger names in the matchday squad, things set up very well - both in the Open Cup and in MLS.