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Atlanta United falls to Indy Eleven 2-1 in quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

Resurgens

KENNESAW, Ga. – Nick Firmino scored the lone goal as Atlanta United fell 2-1 against Indy Eleven in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, ending Atlanta's 2024 tournament run.

"But even tonight, at the very end when we get an own goal at the very end, and I said to them just try to get one. If you can get one goal it means you are still pushing and still trying to be in the game, and they did," said interim head coach Rob Valentino at the post-match press conference. "They had two chances, and they ended up getting one. You have to keep going, no one is going to feel sorry for us, and I think that is sort of the message to me."

Indy Eleven was 6-2-2 on the road in USL play for this season so far, but Atlanta United had good results at home for the Open Cup. The first team’s last match at Fifth Third Stadium came back in early May against USL League One club Charlotte Independence. Two goals from Nick Firmino and one goal from Daniel Ríos helped Atlanta cruise to the next round.

Much like how the first two Open Cup matches started for the 5-Stripes, both teams needed to adjust and figure out the tempo of the match. It seemed that the game plan for both clubs was to try and press early.

Indy Eleven was able to get several scoring chances off corner set pieces. On the match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, set pieces gave the 5-Stripes some trouble.

Saba Lobjanidze, Tyler Wolff and Firmino were able to get behind Indy’s backline to create some opportunities for Atlanta. The best chance for the 5-Stripes was a ball played to Firmino in the penalty box in the 27th minute of the first half.

While their best chances came on set pieces, Indy Eleven got the first goal of the match on a counterattack through off the run of play. In the 31st minute, Augustine Williams got behind the backline for a breakaway to break open the match. This is marked the first time that Atlanta had to play from behind in Open Cup Play.

Atlanta, needing to equalize, started to take more chances in the final minutes of the first half. Lobjanidze went for goal off a corner piece, as well as managed to use his speed to create chances.

But at the end of the first half, it was clear Atlanta would have to push more offensively if they wanted to continue in the tournament.

"When we have a team within their own box, we have to move very quickly and have some quality with it," said Valentino. "We’ve talked about different areas where we can attack, yeah sure, but from there we have to have a little bit more quality in how we execute in the final third"

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In the start of the second half, Atlanta tried to make more of an effort to build from the back. They made the first substitutions of the night. Tristan Muyumba, Tyler Wolff, and Caleb Wiley for Dax McCarty, Luke Brennan, and Matt Edwards respectively in the 57th minute. Wiley, who was named to the United States Men’s Olympic Team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, received a standing ovation from the 17s.

Edwards, who recently signed a homegrown deal with Atlanta, made his MLS debut for the first team in Real Salt Lake.

Brennan made his presence known quickly after coming into to the match. His header in 64th minute almost equalized the match for the 5-Stripes. A string of scoring opportunities came in the 71st and 72nd minute. McCarty's in tight shot was deflected off one of the Indy Eleven players. Daniel Ríos came in for Lobjanidze in the 73rd minute. Ríos has three goals in his last four matches.

The subs seemed to instill a new sense of urgency for the 5-Stripes, but time was ticking down quickly as the looked to tie the match.

Completely against the run of the play in the second half, Indy scored their second goal of the match. In the 83rd minute, the ball deflected off McCarty for an own goal. Atlanta made their final sub of the night in the 87th minute when Noah Cobb subbed in for Stian Gregersen.

Firmino continues his scoring run at Fifth Third Stadium in Open Cu play when in the first minute of extra stoppage time he scores the lone goal for Atlanta United.

Despite the hurried efforts in the end, the 5-Stripes would not be moving on in the Open Cup. This is the second farthest the club has gone in the tournament. The farthest being when the won the whole thing back in 2019.

"I think we’re getting in decent positions, and I feel like we’ve been saying that all year, but scoring the goals, we’re not doing it as often as we want to and as we should," said Firmino after the match. "We feel like it’s so hard for us to score but teams get easier goals than us and we’re always chasing the game so that’s something to work on."

Match Stats
Atlanta United
Indy Eleven
Shots
17
7
Shots on target 
3
1
Corner kicks
5
4
Fouls committed
17
16
xG
1.11
1.03
Possession
67%
33%
Passing accuracy
87%
69%

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