The Battery exit the U.S. Open Cup in the Fourth Round following a 3-1 defeat to Major League Soccer Side Atlanta United Thursday night. It marks the third consecutive year that the Battery have lost to Atlanta in the Open Cup.
The Battery looked to be the better side through the first twenty-five minutes of the match, defending well and creating early chances that troubled the Atlanta defense. Romario Piggott would have the first chance of the game for Charleston after picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area. Piggott dribbled in from the top right side of the eighteen and struck a shot towards goal, but the attempt was low and into the hands of goalkeeper Alec Kann.
Ian Svantesson opened the scoring in the 20th minute and made Atlanta pay for sloppy play in the back. Goalkeeper Alec Kann dribbled out to the right side of his penalty area looking for an outlet pass to one of his teammates. His pass found its way in the direction of defender Franco Escobar who was immediately pressured by AJ Paterson. Escobar tried to let the ball roll through his legs, but Paterson made a well-timed challenge and won possession. Paterson immediately found Svantesson at the top of the box, and with Kann recovering from his initial pass, Svantesson slipped a shot past the keeper before he was able to recover.
After conceding, Atlanta seemed to flip a switch, controlling the rest of the first half action. Atlanta finished the first half with a majority of possession (74%) and eleven shots. The Battery defense remained organized, led by captain Taylor Mueller. Of the eleven first-half shots for Atlanta, only three were on target.
Former Battery forward Romario Williams would level things for the hosts in the 79th minute. On an Atlanta United corner, Franco Escobar and Miles Robinson attacked a cross sent in by Pity Martinez. Robinson got his head to the ball playing it back towards the middle of the box and the resulting ball found its way in front of goal. Williams was first to it and tapped it past Phil Breno.
The Battery continued to defend and took advantage of their limited chances, challenging Atlanta for a late winner. A late charge in the final seconds of stoppage time produced an opportunity for Romario Piggot who had Angelo Kelly making an overlapping run into the box in a two on one situation, but the referee blew his whistle stopping the Battery chance and regular time.
Brandon Vazquez would secure the win for Atlanta United scoring two goals in extra time. Vazquez scored his first in the 110th minute after receiving a lofted pass from Justin Meram and beating both Phil Breno and Taylor Mueller to the ball in a moment of miscommunication for the Battery pair. Meram would once again play provider for Vazquez picking out the forward at the far post on a pass in the 120th minute.
The Battery have a day’s rest before playing Saturday night against Eastern Conference leaders, Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium.