Match-Recap-4.20.22

KENNESAW, Ga. – As reigning champs of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Atlanta United’s quest to protect the title began on Wednesday. The winners of the trophy in 2019 opened this year’s play with a goal-filled performance, beating Chattanooga FC 6-0 in the third-round matchup.

Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. was the site of Wednesday’s match. The 5-Stripes have never lost at the venue. When the club won the U.S. Open Cup in 2019, they won twice there against Charleston Battery and St. Louis FC.

There was action at the Fraction as Atlanta United scored three goals in both halves. Five of the six goals were scored by a different player and every player but two on tonight's match roster made an appearance.

"Everyone makes an impact, everyone makes a difference," striker Dom Dwyer said. "We have a strong group and we're here for the long run here. We want trophies, so this is the first step."

The scoring cascade started in the 21st minute. Fullback Ronald Hernández finished a one-touch shot on a beautifully placed cross from fellow fullback Andrew Gutman. It was Hernández’s first goal of the 2022 season, including all competitions, and Gutman's first assist with the club.

Then, Dwyer scored two goals within a span of 10 minutes. The first arrived in the 25th minute off a cross delivered from midfielder Jake Mulraney. Dwyer dove to head the ball and redirected it into the goal.

For his second on the night in the 35th minute, Dwyer avoided contact with another teammate for a strike outside the 18-yard-box. Dwyer’s brace put Atlanta United ahead 3-0.

"We know that he is able and capable of scoring goals, so it was good to see that performance," Pineda said.

Three more goals came in the second half. In the 53rd minute, midfielder Marcelino Moreno converted a penalty kick to make it 4-0 Atlanta.

Forward Luiz Araújo, who came on as a second half sub, scored in the 67th minute. With his skillful left-foot, he sent in a smart shot over the Chattanooga goalkeeper. It was his second goal of the season in all competitions and his first since returning form a hamstring injury that sidelined him for several weeks.

Brooks Lennon finished off the night with a low driven shot in the 84th minute assisted by Miles Robinson. The goal was Lennon's first-ever in Open Cup competition. It was Robinson's first assist of the season.

"When I got subbed off the last 15-20 minutes today, I was watching our team play," Dwyer said. "It's beautiful to watch. So I'm very excited and happy to be here."

Wednesday marked the first career start with the club for Bobby Shuttleworth. The veteran goalkeeper replaced Brad Guzan, who suffered a ruptured Achilles in Atlanta’s last MLS match against FC Cincinnati.

Shuttleworth faced his first challenge in the 11th minute when he had to punch out a corner kick. He was challenged a few times, especially on a late second-half strike that went right over the crossbar, but finished the day with one save and a clean sheet.

"He's a confident and experienced goalkeeper," Pineda said. "We just want him to be a solid goalkeeper for us and provide that experience. But I think the players trust him. The players have seen how hard he works every training session and 'next man up,' he's the next one. We trust him."

Atlanta United entered the tournament in the third round. Chattanooga FC was a quality opponent that won in the second round against the highest-level opponent in club history. However, the MLS club handled its business on Wednesday, outshooting the away side 21-4, winning 56 duels and 22 tackles, and -- most importantly -- finding the back of the net.

With the result, Atlanta United advances to the Round of 32 in the U.S. Open Cup. The date for next round's draw will be on Thursday, April 21 at noon ET with fixtures scheduled for May 10-11.

Atlanta United won the Open Cup title in 2019, the last time the tournament was played. The competition went on a two-year hiatus before returning in 2022.