Atlanta United falls to Charlotte FC 3-2


Looking to build on the commanding win they had over Inter Miami FC on Wednesday, Atlanta United clashed against regional rival Charlotte FC. After starting off well in the first half, the momentum quickly shifted in the second half towards Charlotte. The 5-Stripes fall 3-2 and now have lost five straight at home.

"In the last game against Miami, we were clinical in the key moments," said head coach Gonzalo Pineda as the post match press conference. "I felt the first (Charlotte) goal, an own goal out of nothing, was like you were tying a game you should be winning. Then suddenly the opponent has a bit more momentum. The start of the second half wasn't great but then we created two or three chances we did not capitalize on."

The match began promising for the 5-Stripes as the first good chance of the match came in the first two minutes of the first half. Saba Lobjanidze, coming off two goals against Inter Miami FC and voted as the Player of the Matchday for matchday 17, first touch was shot just over the net.

Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda dressed the same lineup he did against Miami. The most notable roster notes being Josh Cohen back in net, Thiago Almada as the captain for the match, and five defenders – including the three center backs Stian Gregersen, Derrick Williams, and Luis Abram that played so well against Miami.

Lobjanidze had another great chance off a giveaway from Charlotte in the 10th minute of the match. He unfortunately was not able to test Charlotte’s goalkeeper, Kristijan Kahlina as his shot went just wide of the net.

Much like Lobjanidze, Jamal Thiaré had himself a game against Miami and contunied that strong showing against Charlotte. His scoring opportunity came from an almost perfect pass from Almada, but he missed the shot just in the center of the box.

Cohen made his first difficult save of the match in the 28th minute against a header from Adilson Malanda. By the 30th minute of the match, Atlanta had seven shots to Charlotte’s one. The 5-Stripes looked more comfortable in the final third as they tried to get the first goal of the match. Coming into this match, Atlanta was 4-0-0 leading halftime.

Atlanta was rewarded for their first half dominance in the 35th minute. Almada broke open the scoring with a shot from the center of the box. His quick shot was assisted by Lobjanidze.

Off a Charlotte set piece in the 40th minute, Cohen made what was initally thought of as a save till it was checked by the video assisstant referees (V.A.R). It was announced that the ball went over the net and Charlotte tied the match on an own goal by Atlanta.

"I think the ball was on the line," said Cohen after the match. "Unless it is from a camera angle it is really hard to tell. I have not seen any of it yet, I have not looked back over it. I feel like I got my hand on it when the ball was just a fraction on the line. But who knows."

After four minutes of stoppage time, the first half ended 1-1 with Atlanta having over 55 percent of the possession.

"I felt like we should have been up three or four to one at halftime," said Derrick Williams after the match. "We know in this league teams are always going to have chances. Especially for the first (Charlotte) goal, I saw it late and I could not react quick enough. I was dissapointed because I thought we were dominating in every way."

The second half of the match began more tactical than the first. While Charlotte made little effort to press in the first half, they played more aggressively in the starting minutes of the second half. Both clubs exchanged yellow cards; Charlotte’ Junior Urso received one in the 50th minute while Atlanta defender Brooks Lennon got on one minute later.

Charlotte’s opening press paid off when they scored in the 56th minute. Liel Abada broke out with Patrick Agyemang. Abada was able to turn and shoot to put the Charlotte up 2-1.

Atlanta made three subs in the 62nd minute - Giorgos Giakoumakis, Xande Silva, and Jay Fortune for Thiaré, Derrick Williams, and Dax McCarty. Charlotte's dominance in the second half continued when the South Carolina team scored their third goal in the 68th minute. Abada scored his second of the evening, assisted by Jere Uronen.

In the 73rd minute, Noah Cob came in for Stian Gregersen after Gregersen went down because of problems with his hamstring. Atlanta was not going to go quietly in the night as they got one back in the 76th minute of the match. Fortune got his first assist of the season after making a cross pitch pass to Silva. It was Silva's first goal of the season.

Atlanta continued to push to look for the equalizer and or game winning goal. They had some good looks in the last 20 minutes of match time. Giakoumakis and Silva both had chances in the box. With seven minutes of stoppage time, the 5-Stripes continued to fight but in the end it was not enough. Atlanta United now are 1-3-1 in their last 5 in MLS play.

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

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Atlanta United will not have an MLS match until June 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, against Houston Dynamo FC. Several of the Atlanta United players will be representing their respective countries in international tournaments coming up.

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