The Charleston Battery lost, 3-2, to Atlanta United (MLS) at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia Wednesday night.
The Battery overcame several obstacles, including a two hour and forty minute lightning delay, to come within a whisker of sending the match against their MLS affiliate into extra time. In addition to playing on the road and the lengthy delay, Charleston were without their three most prolific attacking players; Romario Williams, Justin Portillo, and Ataulla Guerra were all unavailable.
With Portillo, Guerra, and Williams’ attacking prowess missing, the Battery looked elsewhere for goals and found one through Forrest Lasso in the fourth minute. Charleston pressed high up the field to earn a throw in deep in Atlanta’s defensive third. O’Brian Woodbine launched the throw into the penalty area and Lasso rose up to flick it in at Alec Kann’s back post. The goal was Lasso’s sixth of the season and second in the U.S. Open Cup.
United responded well and began to threaten the Odisnel Cooper’s goal following Lasso’s early opener. After several good attacking moves, Kevin Kratz finally scored an equalizer in the 31st minute. The ball fell to Kratz after a long serve into the box following a corner kick and the midfielder made no mistake, hammering it past Cooper.
Dante Marini put the Battery back in front immediately after Kratz’s equalizer. Marini picked up the ball in midfield and let a long-range effort fly from about 25 yards out. Marini’s shot took a wicked deflection, which caught Kann out of position. Charleston went into the break leading 2-1.
Atlanta erased the one-goal deficit shortly after the second half whistle through Josef Martinez. The hosts enjoyed a good spell of possession that ended with Brandon Vazquez serving the ball towards the back post where Martinez rose up to nod it in.
United continued to press following their second equalizer of the night. Vazquez scored the eventual game-winner in the 72nd minute, tapping in a Mikey Ambrose cutback. With the win Atlanta advance to the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup.
“I thought we did a lot of things well tonight,” said Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “We started really well with the early goal, but we knew they’d find a rhythm eventually. We had them on their heels a bit at times, but they started to knock the ball around on us and finished their chances. This is a tough one for us, but we can take a lot of positives from tonight into the remainder of the USL season.”
The Battery continue league play this Saturday against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. FCC defeated Columbus Crew SC (MLS), 1-0, in the Open Cup Wednesday night. Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7:00 PM.