It seems as if whenever Atlanta United play the Charleston Battery at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, there are weird circumstances surrounding the match.
There was the nearly three-hour rain delay that held up its fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match in 2017. In 2018’s fourth-round match, the stadium’s sprinkler system came on and delayed that game for several minutes. This year, unplayable field conditions meant that a match originally set to be played in Charleston had to be moved to Kennesaw.
But for the third straight year, it was the MLS side eliminating the Charleston Battery from the Open Cup as 3 unanswered goals led it to a 3-1 victory in a closed door match at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Sloppy play put Atlanta United behind on the scoreboard in the 20th minute. Franco Escobar was dispossessed by A.J. Paterson, who found Ian Svantesson at the top of the box for the match’s first goal. Atlanta, for its part, weren’t sharp for most of the first half and tried to find its legs toward the end of it, but it amounted to nothing in the end as Charleston played with 10 men behind the ball for the bulk of the time.
In the 79th minute, Atlanta finally broke through on a corner routine sent in by Pity Martinez. Miles Robinson found a way to head the ball back to Romario Williams in the box, and the Jamaican poked it home to level the match.
Fatigue crept in as the match progressed without any further goals through the rest of regular time. But it was Brandon Vazquez breaking the deadlock in the 110th minute, taking a nice lifted pass from Justin Meram and drawing the keeper out to give himself an open net goal.
The Battery nearly pulled level in the dying moments of the match, having a potential equalizer called back on offside and moments later seeing Arthur Bosua hit the crossbar after attempting to chip Alec Kann. In stoppage time of the second extra time period, though, the Meram-Vazquez connection struck again to ice the match.
Atlanta heads to Columbus to take on the Crew in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff on Tuesday is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+.