ATL UTD 2 and Toronto FC II entered Wednesday night’s match at Coolray Field among the teams that have conceded the most goals in the USL’s Eastern Conference.
So it was fitting that this match featured plenty of scoring. And, when it was all said and done, the two combined for nine goals in an offense-filled 5-4 Atlanta win - just its second of the season as it snapped a seven-match winless streak.
Things started off on the right foot for ATL UTD 2 in this one. In the fifth minute, Romario Williams won a free kick on the right edge of the box, and an unlikely player - Mikey Ambrose - blasted it home for a rare goal to give his side the early lead.
TFC II leveled it in the 17th as a ball in the box appeared to deflect off Will Crain and past Mitch Hildebrandt to put the visitors back on terms. ATL UTD 2, though, jumped back ahead in the 27th, thanks to a perfect cross by Jon Gallagher to a more likely scoring candidate, Romario Williams, whose on-point first touch sailed past Gianluca Catalano to cap a terrific counter attack and make it 2-1.
About 13 minutes later, ATL UTD 2 won another free kick, this time a little closer to the box. Ambrose couldn’t make it 2-for-2, could he?
“I just said, ‘Why not?’ (and had) a go at it,” Ambrose said. “The second one was a little closer, so I had to get it up and down a little quicker. The first one was a perfect spot.”
There was more drama in this one, though. TFC II responded shortly thereafter that as Aidan Daniels converted a penalty late in the first half make it 3-2. They scored again early in the second half, courtesy of Luca Uccello, to level the match at 3.
That didn’t last long. Jon Gallagher put Atlanta ahead once again as a wild back-and-forth match continued.
Toronto pulled back once more as Uccello’s second goal of the match locked it up at 4 in the 61st minute. Twenty minutes later, though, Brandon Vazquez - down from the first team with Williams to get needed minutes - delivered the game-winner on a deflection.
And, naturally, TFC II would get a last-gasp chance to salvage a point at the death, but it sailed wide and ATL UTD 2 claimed a long-awaited three points at home.
“It was definitely a little more interesting that we would have hoped, but it’s three points nonetheless,” said coach Scott Donnelly after the match. “We accomplished some of the things we wanted to in giving some players time in different spots and bring in some sharpness to some guys that we wanted to. At the end of it all, it’s three points.”
ATL UTD 2 open a string of four away matches on Saturday as it faces defending USL champion Louisville City FC at Slugger Field. Kickoff is set for 7pm.
Lineups: Mitch Hildebrandt, Will Crain, Mikey Ambrose, Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Laurent Kissiedou, Jack Metcalf (C), Brandon Vazquez, Ollie Shannon, Jon Gallagher, Romario Williams
Bench: Lagos Kunga, Jose Carranza, Shawn Nicklaw, Jose Hernandez, Kendall Edwards, Devon Sandoval, Paul Christensen
Substitutes: Hernandez 62’ (Ambrose); Carranza 69’ (Kissiedou); Kunga 81’ (Gallagher)