In a match that was delayed an hour due to lightning, Nashville SC struck for two goals inside the first 11 minutes to beat ATL UTD 2 2-0 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Nashville SC found itself on the front foot early as they applied pressure on the Atlanta defense from the get go. In the 4th minute, a bit of miscommunication between Will Vint and Brendan Moore saw Vint’s pass back to his keeper go into his own net to make it 1-0 Nashville. Minutes later, Matt LaGrassa was given too much room at the top of the box and beat a diving Brendan Moore to double the margin.
“It’s just a mental slip - he just overhit the pass, but I feel he responded really well,” Jack Metcalf said of Vint’s own goal. “Off the kickoff, after making that mistake, he wanted the ball straightaway. I think that mentality will take him a long way.”
Atlanta had a couple of looks at a goal in the second half but nothing seriously challenged Connor Sparrow until a last-gasp shot by Bienvenue Kanakimana - who came in after halftime - was turned aside to preserve Nashville’s clean sheet. Meanwhile, the hosts were forced to play the final quarter-hour with 10 men as George Campbell was sent off after a harsh challenge just outside of the Nashville box.
“We made a couple of mistakes early on to give them a couple of chances and they scored, so that was disappointing,” coach Stephen Glass said. “We suffered a little bit with (conditions) more than they did. I think they adapted to it slightly better. After the rain delay, we had the bulk of the play.”
Laurence Wyke was named man of the match for his performance. The 22-year-old was able to snuff out several Nashville chances, getting back on defense quickly and making some nice one-on-one challenges to keep Atlanta within striking distance.
“We looked like the better team by a stretch in the second half,” said Wyke. “I think the good thing is that we’re putting in good performances in the second half, especially. The first half wasn’t good enough, but I’m proud that the boys keep coming back and hopefully some results start showing for it.”
ATL UTD 2 set off on a three-match road swing, beginning with a trip to Bethlehem Steel FC. Kickoff from the Keystone State is set for next Sunday at 6 p.m.
ATL UTD 2 Starting XI: Brendan Moore, Jack Metcalf (c), Laurence Wyke, George Campbell, Wesly Decas, Alessandro Castro, Will Vint, Luiz Fernando, Romario Williams, Kevin Barajas, Jackson Conway
Bench: Yosef Samuel, Dylan Castanheira, Bienvenue Kanakimana, Tyler Ruthven, Anderson Asiedu, Jose Hernandez, Laurent Kissiedou
Substitutes: Asiedu 46’ (Vint), Kanakimana 46’ (Barajas), Samuel 69’ (Castro)