Three years after Michael Parkhurst and Atlanta United hoisted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open cup in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, head coach Gonzalo Pineda and the Five Stripes began it’s title defense with a convincing 6-0 win over NISA side Chattanooga FC at the Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Atlanta United will learn its next opponent in the U.S. Open Cup on Friday.
The matchup gave Pineda an opportunity to give minutes to finger players and players who are building fitness after recovering from injuries. Bobby Shuttleworth stepped in for Brad Guzan, who underwent surgery for his ruptured achilles this week. Pineda emphasized earlier this week that the U.S. Open Cup the team will pursue with all of its resources and will try to win. He put out a starting lineup that balanced
Venezuelan right back Ronald Hernandez opened the scoring for the Five Stripes in the 21st minute after left back Andrew Gutman took advantage of space to cross the ball into Hernandez’s feet. Heading into this match, Hernandez hadn’t played since the 3-3 draw with CF Montreal on March 19th.
Striker Dom Dwyer led the line and scored two impressive goals in a ten minute span to extend Atlanta United’s lead.
Marcelino Moreno made up for his penalty miss against Alec Kann and FC Cincinnati over the weekend with a converted penalty that Jake Mulraney earned in the 53rd minute.
Luiz Araujo came onto the field as a substitute alongside Emerson Hydnman in the 62nd minute as both players continue to build fitness after returning from injury. Araujo scooped the ball over Chattanooga goalkeeper Kevin Gonzalez to add some Brazilian flair to the match.
Miles Robinson, who captained the team in the absence of Brad Guzan, registered an assist after setting Brooks Lennon up for the 6th and final goal of the night.
This is the type of result that Atlanta United would have expected, with all due respect to their opponents. It’s a positive that Atlanta was able to execute on the field and put the ball in the back of the net, even if it wasn’t against an MLS caliber opponent. Considering the Five Stripes were shutout in their previous two games and Atlanta has been dealt a moral blow after the loss of so many key players, this will be a mood enhancer for the club.