Atlanta United 2 picked up its first win of the season with a 4-1 decimation of 10-men Charleston Battery on Sunday night at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Jackson Conway scored his first USL Championship hat trick, while 16-year-old Jonantan Villal marked his first professional start with two assists.
The Battery struck first, as Dylan Castanheira saved a shot from Loganville, Ga. native DZ Harmon into the path of Aidan Apodaca. Apodaca fired his shot into the roof of the net from the left side to take the lead for Charleston in the sixth minute.
David Mejía was creating chances for the hosts from the left wing, first forcing a save from Joe Kuzminsky on a free kick in the 19th minute before striking the post with a surging shot from the left side of the box two minutes later.
Atlanta came close again in the 26th minute, with Noah Cobb flicking on a free kick for Alex De John to volley from the right. The Atlanta United defender’s effort forced a diving save out of Kuzminsky.
Charleston would be down a man for the entire second half, as Matt Sheldon earned two consecutive yellow cards and was sent off by the referee in the dying embers of the first half.
Villal, who was impressive in the first half, did well with the extra space afforded to him in the second half. In the 56th minute, Robbie Mertz intercepted a Charleston pass on the right side and drove into the box before sending Villal to the goal line. The midfielder lofted a cross to the far post, which Conway leapt to and headed in for the equalizer.
Conway would net his second just seven minutes later, this time with the help of left back Mikey Ambrose. Ambrose picked up a half-cleared ball on the left flank, before creating some distance with a touch and launching a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. The 20-year-old Academy product would once again get his head on the cross, nodding in his second of the night in the 63rd minute.
Conway and Villal paired up again in the 78th minute to finish off an Atlanta breakaway, deftly touching down a Darwin Matheus cross before flicking up a short lob for his teammate. Conway took the pass with his right foot and spun to finish with his left, securing his first professional hat trick.
After contributing with a secondary assist on Conway’s third goal, Matheus knocked in his first goal of the 2022 season. Conway misfired a shot off a cross from the right side by Ajani Fortune, which the Venezuelan pounced on and tucked in with his left foot in stoppage time.
ATL UTD 2 (1-3-0, 3 points) heads back on the road to face off against Hartford Athletic, traveling to Trinity Health Stadium for a Saturday-night match on April 2 (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET).
Atlanta 4, Charleston 1
Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Shots: 24-9 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 9-1 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 2-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 24-10 Charleston
Offsides: 1-0 Atlanta
Possession: 67.5-32.5 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 84.7-65.2 Atlanta
CHS – Aidan Apodaca 6’ (unassisted)
ATL – Jackson Conway 56’ (Jonantan Villal, Robbie Mertz)
ATL – Jackson Conway 63’ (Mikey Ambrose)
ATL – Jackson Conway 78’ (Jonantan Villal, Darwin Matheus)
ATL – Darwin Matheus 94’ (Jackson Conway, Ajani Fortune)
ATL – Brendan Lambe 2’ (yellow)
CHS – Tristan Weber 4’ (yellow)
ATL – Nick Firmino 20’ (yellow)
CHS – Matt Sheldon 33’ (yellow)
CHS – Matt Sheldon 46’ (2nd yellow/red)
CHS – Augustine Williams 49’ (yellow)
CHS – Preston Kilwein 68’ (yellow)
CHS – Enock Kwakwa 73’ (yellow)
CHS – Dominic Oduro 86’ (yellow)
ATL UTD 2 STARTING LINEUP
Dylan Castanheira; Aidan McFadden, Noah Cobb, Alex De John, Mikey Ambrose; Brendan Lambe (Darwin Matheus – 46’), Nick Firmino (Ajani Fortune – 74’), Robbie Mertz ©; Jonantan Villal (Luke Brennan – 82’), David Mejía (Erik Centeno – 55’), Jackson Conway.
Substitutes not used: Justin Garces, Grant Howard, Mathieu Brick.
CHARLESTON BATTERY STARTING LINEUP
Joe Kuzminsky; Tristan Weber (Brett St. Martin – 64’), Preston Kilwien ©, Patrick Hogan, Matt Sheldon; Dominic Oduro, Enock Kwakwa (Shak Adams – 81’), DZ Harmon (Joe Schmidt – 46’), Andrew Booth (EJ Johnson – 64’); Augustine Williams, Aidan Apodaca (Mauro Cichero – 46’)
Substitutes not used: Hugo Fauroux, Geobel Perez Jr.
Kyle Johnston (referee), Ben Rigel (assistant), Joe Suchoski (assistant), Madzid Coric (fourth official)
- Jackson Conway netted his first professional hat trick
- Midfielder Jonantan Villal earned his first career start, picking up two assists
- Midfielder Brendan Lambe made his first start of the season
- Atlanta United defender Alex De John made his first start of the season
- Ajani Fortune tallied his first professional assist