Atlanta United got back to winning ways on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Charlotte FC in what was a normal game between two geographically-close teams, which does not make a rivalry, in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Josef Martinez and Jake Mulraney provided the goals that made the difference.
Gonzalo Pineda welcomed multiple players back into the fray, including Ozzie Alonso, who missed out last week against Colorado due to potential heart issues. Santiago Sosa also made the bench for the first time this season as he has been working to recover from a sports hernia surgery at the end of last season. Marcelino Moreno and Thiago Almada both came off the bench in the 56th minute, with the latter making his competitive Atlanta United debut.
On the other side, former Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes featured as an unused substitute.
Atlanta did well to keep Charlotte contained throughout the majority of the first half, but two headers from Karol Swiderski made Charlotte’s xG numbers jump real high and surpass the entirety of Atlanta’s xG numbers up until that point. Guzan made the necessary saves, but Charlotte began growing into the game after those moments.
atlanta united did not end the half well pic.twitter.com/u9frLiJHs6— J. Sam Jones (@J_SamJones) March 13, 2022
Brooks Lennon earned a penalty kick for the Five Stripes in the 57th, which Josef converted for his first goal of the 2022 season and his 90th career regular season goal. He even nodded back to the Before Times in his celebration.
It only took Charlotte six minutes to find the equalizer, which was also the first goal in their club’s short history. Here’s to hoping Charlotte doesn’t bring that up every time these teams play.
The scoreline was close for the majority of the match, which could be chalked down to both keepers making good saves throughout the match (except for Guzan’s error on Charlotte’s goal). Kristijan Kahlina in particular had an excellent game, registering 6 saves on 1.62 xGA (expected goals against). Unfortunately for him and Charlotte, Jake Mulraney found the final breakthrough for Atlanta late into stoppage time.
THAT ball from Moreno— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 13, 2022
THAT finish from Mulraney pic.twitter.com/HIXaWAjRNY
Atlanta United will return to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday to host CF Montreal in another Eastern Conference matchup. See you then.