Saturday night’s season finale for ATL UTD 2 against the Richmond Kickers ended up turning into the Lagos Kunga show.
The Atlanta United homegrown collected a pair of goals six minutes apart as ATL UTD 2 dropped the Richmond Kickers 3-2 at Coolray Field. Atlanta ended its season with a four-match unbeaten streak, taking eight of a possible 12 points after dropping its first three matches of a seven-game homestand.
“When we came in (at halftime) the coach talked to me to change some things, take more chances,” Kunga said. “I came out more confident (in) taking players on.”
ATL UTD 2 dominated possession and the run of play during much the first 45 minutes of the match, threatening several times to knock in the opening goal. On the other end, Richmond barely tested Nico Caraux as he had a very easy time of it in net in his first start in a while.
Things evened out a bit over the first quarter of the second, with Richmond gradually taking play to Atlanta as they looked to catch the home team napping on the break. But ATL UTD 2 finally got on the board in the 63rd minute, thanks to a pretty run into the box by Kunga.
Six minutes later, it was Kunga adding his second as he outpaced his mark and chipped one past Brandon Barnes.
In the 76th, Devon Sandoval made it 3-0 on a nifty finish following a Ollie Shannon block,
This one had a little drama at the end: Giuseppe Gentile made it 3-1 in the 80th, added another in stoppage time and nearly leveled it seconds later, but the margin ended up being a bit too much for the Kickers to overcome.
“For 75 minutes it was one of our most complete performances,” said ATL UTD 2 coach Scott Donnelly. “That’s a great way to complete the season. Good performances from some of our younger players - those were all positives for sure.”
While the results may have been tough to come by at times, Donnelly can look back knowing that the team has grown throughout the course of the season.
“We’ve been cognizant and remained consistent with the club’s mission of this team,” he said. “We feel good about the work we’ve done...and we’ve seen our young players kick on and grow.
“It’s not just about wins and losses - it’s about what the mission for the team is. With all that said it’s great to end (four unbeaten) as it’s shown and highlighted the growth of some of the players.”
ATL UTD 2 Starting Lineup: Nico Caraux, Jose Hernandez, Miles Robinson, A.J. Cochran (c), Shawn Nicklaw, Kevin Kratz, Ollie Shannon, Jon Gallagher, Lagos Kunga, Laurent Kissiedou, Devon Sandoval
Bench: Alessandro Castro, Chris Goslin, Paul Christensen, Jack Metcalf, Jackson Conway, Kevin Barajas
Substitutions: Goslin 68’ (Kissiedou), Conway 78’ (Sandoval), Metcalf 87’ (Kunga)