Atlanta United won just 2 away games in the 2022 MLS season.
Thanks to a dazzling performance by Caleb Wiley on Saturday, its 1st trip away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2023 was a rousing success.
The 18-year-old Homegrown put together by far his best showing in a Five Stripes kit, scoring a 1st-half brace and adding an assist as Atlanta surged to a 3-0 win over Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium.
With Matheus Rossetto out due to a hamstring injury, Amar Sejdic received the call at midfield for Atlanta. That was the only change to Gonzalo Pineda’s starting XI from the 1-1 draw against Toronto FC.
Saturday marked the 1st meeting between Atlanta and Charlotte since the tragic death of Anton Walkes. Charlotte supporters unveiled a tifo before the match honoring the former defender’s time with both clubs amid chants of his name throughout the stadium.
And it was a dream start for Atlanta as it found itself off the mark in the 5th minute. After Sejdic’s pressure forced a turnover, Thiago Almada found Wiley in space, with Wiley beating Charlotte keeper Pablo Sisniega with a well-placed finish to make it 1-0.
Wiley would play distributor to Luiz Araujo just moments later as Atlanta doubled its lead. His pass found the DP midfielder, who hesitated momentarily in the box before firing past Sisniega to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the 12th minute.
Atlanta’s defense found itself let off on numerous occasions as Charlotte threatened to claw its way back into the match. CLTFC thought it’d won a penalty as Brooks Lennon hip-checked a Charlotte player inside the box, but a check of Video Review by Ismail Elfath saw the call overturned.
Araujo and Wiley connected again in stoppage time of the 1st half, as Araujo slid a pass across to Wiley — aided by a brilliant dummy from Almada – with Wiley placing it near-post to make it 3-0. That added to the frustration of the afternoon for Charlotte FC fans as the Bank of America Stadium crowd rained boos down on the team at Elfath’s halftime whistle.
Pineda opted to insert Giorgos Giakoumakis in place of Miguel Berry in the 59th minute, while Derrick Etienne and Santiago Sosa spelled Wiley and Sejdic with around 20 minutes remaining. While Wiley will get the plaudits (and rightfully so) as Charlotte ended the day still in search of its first points of the season, Sejdic’s efforts were instrumental throughout the afternoon, including forcing the turnover that led to Atlanta’s 1st goal.
Atlanta remain unbeaten through 3 matches (2-0-1) and host the Portland Timbers next Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET).