Atlanta United dominates in 3-0 victory over Charlotte Independence in U.S. Open Cup 

us open (clt)

KENNESAW, Ga. – Atlanta United advanced to the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after defeating USL League One club, Charlotte Independence, in a thrilling Tuesday evening match in Kennesaw. With some new faces in the lineup - like Ashton Gordon, Matt Edwards, and Adyn Torres - and some Open Cup magic from players like Nick Firmino and Daniel Ríos, Atlanta United put together a strong performance in their midweek match.

"When you win and have a solid performance like we did today, that brings confidence to the players," said head coach Gonzalo Pineda at the post match press conference. "I think at times there are certain games like this that can be a game changer or system changer."

Knowing that Charlotte would want to establish a gameplan of their own, Atlanta United had to stay sharp in the early minutes of the match. Both teams were able to get corner kick opportunities in the match's early moments, but Atlanta maintained most of the possession.

Injuries have unfortunately been a footnote in this season for the 5-Stripes. Stian Gregersen, who was making his first start since coming back from meniscus surgery, went down in the 11th minute of the match. Homegrown Noah Cobb subbed into the match quickly thereafter.

Matt Edwards and Luke Brennan both played large parts in Atlanta’s build up that gave Charlotte fits. Brennan’s speed made it easier for Atlanta to open more, especially on the left side. The best chance of the first half came from Ashton Gordon in the 27th minute. A turnover by Charlotte and a long cross field pass by Dax McCarty set up Gordon, but a quality save from Charlotte keeper Austin Pack kept the score tied at zero.

Despite the changes Charlotte tried to make, Atlanta dominated in not only possesion but also shots in the first half. At one point, Atlanta had seven shots to Charlotte's one.


Atlanta United's strong offensive game in the first half carried to the start of the second. After a cutback cross pass from Edwards, Nick Firmino broke through for the 5-Stripes in the 52nd minute. Firmino showed great patience, waiting for Edwards to shoot the ball across for the goal. It was build up from McCarty and Jay Fortune that began the play.

With a goal on the board, both teams started taking more chances. The 5-Stripes made a couple of subs as Caleb Wiley and Brooks Lennon came in for Matt Edwards and Ashton Gordon in the 64th minute. A challenge this team has faced in MLS play this year is gaining a lead or momentum just to let the other team come back and score. Pineda expressed his appreciation for how Atlanta played once Charlotte started to push more after Firmino's goal.

"Yes, I love that," said Pineda. "In key moments of the game, or coming out of the first half without a goal, certainly puts pressure on us. I liked our reaction. We needed that first goal to release the pressaure and start to play a bit more free. But they were also able to manage the game properly."

Almost 10 minutes later, in the 71st minute, Wiley was able to get behind Charlotte's defense and make a stellar pass to Firmino to double the lead for Atlanta. With a brace under his belt, Firmino's scoring touch was on full display.

"The first (goal) one was very important," Firmino said after the match. "The more we let them hang around, 0-0 in the 60th or 70th minute, the more belief they have. As far as the goals go, it is our principles; overload the wings, try get crosses in the box. I was in good spots and they found me."

Bartosz Slisz and Xande Silva boh subbed into the match for McCarty and Brennan respectively in the 72nd minute. Atlanta continued to search for that third goal. Daniel Ríos was rewarded for his hard work for the night as he slotted the last goal for Atlanta. Silva, who missed some time for the 5-Stripes due to injury, looked back in game form as he made the tight pass in the box to Ríos.

As time ticked down, the match turned into a game of keep away for the 5-Stripes as they fought to get the cleen sheet for Josh Cohen, who made his Atlanta United debut in this match. In the 88th minute, Adyn Torres came into the match for Firmino.

With only two minutes of stoppage time added on, Atlanta United was able to get back into the win column, and move onto the next round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in exciting fashion.

Match Stats
Atlanta United
Charlotte Independence 
Shots on target
Corner kicks
Fouls committed
Passing accuracy 

Up Next - Back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The 5-Stripes will get right back at work as they prepare to take on D.C United in MLS play on Saturday, May 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They will look to carry this performance to Saturday and get a much needed three points.

Don't miss 7:30 p.m. kickoff, get your tickets for the match.

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