Promising signs for the future for the Five Stripes as a young Atlanta United side showed its potential in a tight 0-0 draw with the Charleston Battery.
With the regular season on the horizon, Tata Martino made wholesale changes to the lineup to give opportunities to players who are returning from injury or have showed they’ve deserved first-team opportunities in the preseason. It was a first start of the preseason for everyone in the starting lineup: Alec Kann (GK), José Hernández (LB), Miles Robinson (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Franco Escobar (RB), Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu (CM), Kevin Kratz (CM), Brandon Vazquez (LW), Andrew Carleton (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Romario Williams (ST).
Atlanta United started on the front foot in a tight affair, with the first chance coming less than six minutes into the game. Tito Villalba’s cross was deflected into the path of Andrew Carleton, whose neat flick put the ball on Franco Escobar’s foot. The Argentina hit a first-time cross but Romario Williams could only head the ball over the net.
Andrew Carleton was the creator just past the hour mark. He acted quickly to get to a loose ball first and hit a first-time pass beautifully with the outside of his boot into the path of second-half substitute Jon Gallagher. But the Charleston goalkeeper was decisive to come off his line and save well from the former Notre Dame standout’s chipped shot.
The second half saw more pro minutes for the young blood in the Five Stripes lineup, with newly-signed Oliver Shannon joining his fellow SuperDraft pick on the field. And Homegrown central midfielder Chris Goslin also got first-team time in the center of the park for the final stretch of the game. Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu showed why he could be a contributor for the team this year, putting in a solid shift at center midfield as well as right back –proving his versatility to the coaching staff.
On the defensive end, it was a solid showing for Franco Escobar and Miles Robinson, as well as the ever-reliable Michael Parkhurst, who got a crucial 90 minutes under his belt as he returns to fitness for the MLS regular season. While they limited the Battery’s chances, Alec Kann was ready when called upon, highlighted by a great reaction save to come off his line and smother a Charleston counter-attack.
Despite positive play from both sides, neither could find the killer shot to take the win and the final preseason match of 2018 ended in a 0-0 draw. The club now returns to Atlanta for a final week of training before hitting the road for the start of the MLS regular season in Houston against the Dynamo. Their home debut comes just a week later, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against D.C. United on March 11th. Tickets to that match are still available, make sure you’ve reserved your spot here.