Tuesday night’s match between ATL UTD 2 and the Charleston Battery turned into the Gordon Wild show. The Atlanta United draftee, on loan with the Battery to gain playing time, scored the first two goals of his professional career as Charleston defeated Atlanta 3-0.
The irony of tonight shouldn’t be lost on anyone considering that Charleston was Atlanta United’s USL affiliate for a couple of years. With the teams set to play each other twice more this year, the Battery have taken the early edge.
Things looked good from Atlanta from the chance standpoint early on as Andrew Carleton and Jackson Conway threatened to put the team up first. But it wasn’t to be as Charleston took advantage of some poor defensive marking by the home side on a keeper clearance. It was ultimately Ian Svantesson who broke the deadlock in the 33rd to make it 1-0 for the Battery.
It didn’t take long into the second half for Charleston to double the margin. Svantesson’s flick forward near midfield found Wild on the break, leaving Nico Caraux no chance as he put home his first professional goal to make it 2-0. Wild struck again in the 84th as he was afforded too much space to run into the box, eventually beating Caraux 1-on-1 to make it a 3-0 game.
Wild was obviously the man of the match with his two-goal performance and, despite ATL UTD 2’s loss, should give Atlanta fans some comfort considering how good he looked for Charleston tonight.
“We saw one of the things Gordon does well, which is finish,” said ATL UTD 2 coach Scott Donnelly. “When he really had his one chance of the game, he took it. I think if we were to have that moment back, we try to not give him that opening, because we know he’s a good finisher. But we didn’t, and he took advantage of that.”
Conway, a 16-year-old from Atlanta United’s academy, played 60 minutes before giving way to Brandon Vazquez. Conway very well could have had a pair of goals in this one if not for some near misses, but he was still sharp in his first professional match.
“This is a great opportunity for him to get some minutes against a good, experienced Charleston team with some big guys across the back,” Donnelly said. “It was a game where there wasn’t a lot of space to work, but he still found some good pockets. Obviously we saw him nearly miss on the far post and nearly missed a header. In future games in months and years of his career, those go in.”
ATL UTD 2 are away from Coolray Field for its next three matches, starting on Saturday as they travel to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Match time from Highmark Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
ATL UTD 2 starting XI: Nico Caraux, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Miles Robinson, Kendall Edwards, Mikey Ambrose, Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Jack Metcalf (c), Jose Carranza, Andrew Carleton, Jackson Conway, Lagos Kunga
Bench: Ollie Shannon, A.J. Cochran, Jon Gallagher, Paul Christensen, Chris Goslin, Brandon Vazquez, Devon Sandoval
Substitutions: Vazquez 61’ (Conway), Gallagher 71’ (Kunga), Sandoval 78’ (Carleton)