A new week sees a new manager pacing the touchline for Atlanta United 2. Filling in for Stephen Glass was Academy Director Tony Annan. Annan had a lot of familiar faces to work with in his first professional lineup and they certainly did their best to give him a first match to remember.
The tactical changes are already apparent under Annan’s leadership. The team trotted out a 4-3-3 to start the match with Wiley, Jadama, Tubbs, and Gurr along the back from left to right. The only new addition to the line-up was the 2019 Division III First Team All American and USA South Player of the Year Baboucarr Njie who was making his first start after joining the team from North Carolina Wesleyan College. Njie was tasked with stabilizing the midfield alongside Reilly while Coleman Gannon got his first start in a free-roaming #10 role. Reilly has transitioned into a deep-lying midfield role, often slotting in between the centerbacks and facilitating from the back. Macky Diop pushed up into the front three alongside Goodrum and Conway. This moved proved to be spot on as Diop was an absolute menace for Miami the whole night.
This young 2’s side was facing The Miami FC (emphasis on the “The”). Miami featured a couple of familiar faces on their lineup card. Harrison Heath got the start in midfield and Romario Williams began the match on the bench. This veteran Miami side fielded a significantly older and more experienced side than the home team but were looking for a spark to reignite their team chemistry after an extremely lengthy layoff since their last match in March.
Miami got just that in the thirteenth minute as Miguel Gonzalez found a wide open Mohamed Thiaw in front of the net for the first goal.
In the 15th minute, things got weird when a long ball from Gurr stayed in play leading the Miami goalkeeper to dribble to ball back into his box. Jackson flew in and blew the keeper up to win the ball and got a yellow card for his troubles. The yellow was probably more of a statement by the refs to protect the keeper than a valid decision since the keeper had become a field player the moment he decided to play the ball. Unfortunately, this would come back to haunt Jackson later.
Atlanta battled back and in the 41st minute, Njie switched the field with a massive looping cross to find a flashing Jack Gurr. Gurr sprinted to the end line and curled a beautiful ball over the keeper to Mackey Diop who finds the back of the net.
The second half started quickly with a bad giveaway by the back line leading to Miami’s 2nd goal. But their lead lasted less than a minute as another Jack Gurr cross failed to be cleared by the Miami defense leading to a beautiful sitter for Diop who smashed it into the back of the net.
He cannot be stopped— ATL UTD 2 (@atlutd2) July 30, 2020
Macky Diop with his second of the night! pic.twitter.com/dNXgt7iKBS
After a frantic back and forth by the two teams, Mo Jadama added his name to the book with a yellow in the 57th minute for a lunging challenge. Reilly joined him minutes later after dragging down a Miami player to kill a counter at midfield.
The end to end nature of the match continued as Jack Gurr sent yet another dangerous cross in, this time on a free kick, finding Jackson Conway for the third goal of the night.
Unfortunately, Conway vented his frustration with the officials and his opponents by removing his jersey and promptly being sent off on his second yellow in the 69th minute. That was just being selfish and could have cost the team the match. He will be suspended for the next match against Charleston and may receive some discipline from his new coach.
The substitutions began in the 75th minute with Bashti coming on in the midfield to replace Goodrum. As is to be expected for the exuberant Bashti, he promptly earned himself a yellow card, the team’s fourth of the night.
The substitutions kept coming with Diop and Gannon making way for Daniel Steedman and David Mejia.
In just his third professional appearance, Mejia immediately made a difference, combining well with Bashti and Reilly to drive into the Miami box. After a quick give-and-go with Reilly, Mejia flashed to the back post where he connected on a cross from Bashti for his first career goal.
In the midst of all of these changes, Romario Williams took the field. He would go on to score in the 7th minute of stoppage time but it was not enough to steal this one from the man of the hour, Tony Annan.
Congratulations to Tony Annan and Atlanta United 2 for their first wins for the season and Tony’s first professional win.