ATL UTD 2’s loss to Saint Louis FC on Saturday night will be marked by a little controversy. A 9th-minute penalty decision - later appearing to be the result of a dive by Kyle Greig - was converted by Sam Fink as Saint Louis came away with a 2-0 win at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
At first glance, it looked as if Jack Metcalf caught Greig in the box inside the match’s first ten minutes. A second look appeared to show that Metcalf won the ball cleanly and Greig went down without being touched, but with no review system in the USL Championship and unfortunately for Atlanta, the call would stand. Saint Louis doubled its margin as Russell Cicerone found himself on the other end of a nice ball from Lewis Hilton and shook off George Campbell in the box to make it a 2-0 affair.
But the penalty was a talking point afterward, with both players and coach adamant that the wrong decision was made.
“It’s one of those things that is out of our control but it wasn’t a penalty,” Metcalf said. “We asked him the reason for the penalty and he honestly couldn’t give us one. He just said the lineman had called a penalty as well.”
“I can’t tell Jack not to tackle there when he gets the ball cleanly,” said coach Stephen Glass. “He tackled the ball well and did it clean. (Greig) kicked his leg out as he’s trying to score and Jack got punished for it. We can’t control that. What we can control is what we did in the second half about it.”
While ATL UTD 2 weren’t able to find the net tonight, it wasn’t for lack of trying. The hosts held a 70%-30% edge in possession in the second half while outshooting their opponents 9-3. Andrew Carleton finished the evening with 8 shots, tying a team record.
“I was happy with how I was doing,” Carleton said. “I just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. You have those nights every now and then. I thought as a team we played well and individually I played well.”
“I think that second half was very positive for us,” Metcalf said. “You could feel the crowd riding off the energy and the chances we were creating. We’ve just got to be a little bit more clinical in the final third.”
It’s a quick turnaround for ATL UTD 2 as it travels to Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday before returning home to Fifth Third Bank Stadium to take on North Carolina FC. Wednesday’s match starts at 8 p.m. ET while Saturday’s contest is set for a 7:30 kickoff.
ATL UTD 2 Starting XI: Alec Kann, George Campbell, Guillermo Benitez, Laurence Wyke, Florentin Pogba, Jack Metcalf (c), Anderson Asiedu, Luiz Fernando, Dion Pereira, Andrew Carleton, Romario Williams