Thanks to goals from Devon Sandoval and Andrew Carleton, Atlanta United 2 earned it’s second consecutive road win Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over Penn FC.
It was a mature performance from manager Scott Donnelly’s young team. Despite failing to control the game for some prolonged stretches, Atlanta capitalized on counter-attacking opportunities, often spearheaded by Andrew Carleton from his attacking midfield position.
It didn’t take long for Atlanta to take control of the scoreline as freshly-minted right back Jon Gallagher connected with Sandoval on a cross from the right flank. Gallagher has looked effective in the new position since moving from his typical position of left wing.
Penn FC equalized on a corner in the 34th minute, but Atlanta responded in short order. On another corner kick for Penn FC only five minutes later, Atlanta was able to counter through interplay between Carleton, Lagos Kunga and Gallagher. Gallagher eventually found Carleton in Penn FC’s box, and the academy product from Powder Springs took a touch before beating the goalkeeper at the near post.
The win for Atlanta was perhaps most impressive ironically because it wasn’t pretty. The team defended for lengthy durations with commitment and structural integrity that has been missing at times this season. The 4-4-2 diamond formation that Donnelly has employed the last several matches certainly seems to be a good fit for most of the team’s key players.
“I’m certainly pleased to see us get good results and proud of the effort and buy in,” Donelly said after the win. “Additionally, it has been away from home, which shows a maturing group. One of the things I’m happiest with is how we’ve gotten these results –some very good soccer against Indy and Toronto, and now tonight on a heavy surface against a direct team, we stood up and defended as a group when we had to. There’s no question the group has progressed and has been rewarded for it.”
Something Donnelly and fans will be happy to see is the performance of Andrew Carleton. Despite not dominating the match, Carleton was clearly the creative spark for the team. Atlanta could’ve added another goal to their total had one of the assistant referees not incorrectly flagged Lagos Kunga offside after a silky backheel from Carleton.
ATL UTD 2 (5-13-8, 23 points) returns to action Saturday, Sept. 15 against Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 p.m. EST at Al Lang Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.