Caleb Wiley first-half brace powers Atlanta United to 3-0 win over Charlotte FC


Atlanta United went on the road for the first time this season, taking on regional opponent Charlotte FC for a Southern showdown at Bank of America Stadium. Homegrown and 18-year-old Caleb Wiley scored a first-half brace, and added an assist, to power Atlanta United to a 3-0 win on the road. The 5-Stripes earn their third straight result to remain unbeaten on the season.

First half - Clubs honor Anton Walkes, Amar Sejdić in Atlanta United's starting XI, Caleb Wiley scores first career brace

The day began on a somber note as the clubs came together to honor one of their own. Anton Walkes, who played for both Charlotte FC and Atlanta United during his MLS career, passed away earlier this year. The clubs wore black T-shirts with his initials "AW" prior to kickoff. Supporter groups from both clubs came together to design a tifo honoring Walkes and lifted it up in the stands at Bank of America Stadium.

Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda went with the same starting XI he did last week against Toronto FC except, again, for one change. Amar Sejdić was in the starting XI for the first time this season. The midfielder had been limited in preseason due to recovering from a broken toe.

Sejdić was indeed a difference maker on the pitch and created the takeaway that led to the first goal of the match. The midfielder led with a tackle in the middle third to take possession from Charlotte FC. The ball found Thiago Almada who passed it on to a wide open Caleb Wiley. The Homegrown took a touch then finished an absolute no-doubter for his first goal of the year which put Atlanta United ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute.

It was only a few minutes later that Atlanta United doubled their lead. Wiley found Luiz Araújo on the far side of the 18-yard box. The flashy Brazilian expertly cut back to his favored left foot and buried a low-driven ball for his first goal of the season. Atlanta United led by two goals in the 12th minute. For the first time in his career, Wiley had one goal and one assist in the same match.

In the 29th minute, it appeared that Charlotte FC would have a chance to cut into the lead. On the pitch, Atlanta United was called for a foul inside the penalty area that would've given Charlotte a penalty kick. However, after VAR the call was reversed and Charlotte did not get the chance at a PK.

Charlotte had another strong chance on a set piece in the 42nd minute. After a foul was called on Atlanta, the home team earned a free kick outside the 18-yard box. Karol Swiderski stepped up to curl a shot on frame. Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan punched the shot over the crossbar for his second save on the day.

Atlanta United wasn't done. On the attack in first half stoppage time, Almada carried the ball up the pitch then kicked the ball wide to Araújo on the right side. The forward crossed the ball back into the box. Almada left it for Wiley, who was running into the box on the far side, and the Homegrown finished it off with a low driven ball. It was Wiley's second goal of the day, his third in his young MLS career, and Atlanta United led Charlotte 3-0 at the halftime break.

Second half - Atlanta United keeps a clean sheet, Ajani Fortune makes his MLS debut

In the 59th minute, Pineda made his first substitution of the match, sending on Giorgos Giakoumakis to replace Miguel Berry at striker. The match marks the second club appearance for Giakoumakis. He made his debut last weekend in the 1-1 draw to Toronto FC at home.

At the 70th minute, Pineda made a pair of subs. Derrick Etienne Jr. and Santiago Sosa entered the match for Wiley and Sejdić. The appearance marked Sosa's first of the 2023 season.

With a three-goal lead, the second half for Atlanta United was about keeping Charlotte off the board. And Charlotte FC threatened, pressing with urgency to cut into their deficit. Charlotte striker Enzo Copetti was especially active, getting a few opportunities on goal, but the visitors held on behind Guzan's three saves on the day. It was Atlanta United's first clean sheet of 2023.

Ajani "Jay" Fortune made his MLS debut, coming on as a sub in second-half stoppage time. It was Pineda's final substitution of the match.

With the 3-0 win, Atlanta United earns three points on the road against an Eastern Conference opponent. The 5-Stripes remain unbeaten on the season.

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

Up next - Atlanta United returns home to face Portland Timbers in a rematch of the 2018 MLS Cup

Atlanta United takes on its second Western Conference opponent of the season next Saturday when the 5-Stripes return home to take on the Portland Timbers. It'll be a rematch of the 2018 MLS Cup when Atlanta United beat Portland 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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