It’s a quick turnaround for Atlanta United following a draw on the weekend in MLS play as the 5-Stripes take on Chattanooga FC in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. After a two-year hiatus, the 107th edition of the U.S. Open Cup sees 17 MLS teams enter in the third round, while the remaining eight MLS teams enter in the next round (Round of 32). Atlanta United are the reigning Open Cup champions after winning the trophy in 2019, the last time it was contested. In that cup run, Atlanta defeated two teams from lower divisions on its way to another trophy. Chattanooga FC applies its trade in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), considered the third tier of American Soccer. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Chattanooga FC.
Keep Cashing in Victories at Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw has been the sight of several victories for Atlanta United in Cup/Knockout style tournaments. In fact, the 5-Stripes hold a 7-0-0 mark at Fifth Third Bank Stadium when you combine U.S. Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League play. Atlanta has outscored its opponents 19-3 in those seven victories. In 2019, the team’s Open Cup run to the title featured victories over Charleston Battery (3-1) and St. Louis FC (2-0) at Fifth Third Bank stadium.
Atlanta is coming off a 0-0 draw on the weekend in MLS play. The 5-Stripes created a new season-best 19 chances in the match. Finding that finishing touch on the end of those chances created will be one of the keys in Wednesday’s match.
Don’t let “David” throw the winning stone
Chattanooga FC will be the underdogs coming into Wednesday’s match. The team plays in NISA, the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. Founded in 2009, the club has played in a couple of lower division leagues throughout its time. They played in the NPSL Championship game in 2010 and 2012. Since 2019, the team has played in NISA.
The allure of the U.S. Open Cup, or any cup competition across the globe, is that it gives lower division teams a chance to compete against the top division clubs in their respective countries. The competition thrives off the “David” vs. “Goliath” theme. Atlanta United needs to make sure not to underestimate this Chattanooga side and come out strong from the opening whistle. Chattanooga FC beat Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship) 3-1 in the previous round, showing the quality they possess.
Believe in the next man
The injury bug struck again last weekend with Brad Guzan suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon injury. Fortunately, Atlanta United will be able to call upon Bobby Shuttleworth in goal as the next man up. Shuttleworth brings with him over 200 MLS Regular Season appearances and a vocal presence in the back. The 5-Stripes have had to rely on their squad depth throughout the early parts of the season and that depth will likely be on display again this Wednesday, with another MLS weekend on Sunday. Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda has created a culture and team camaraderie that will be tested during these times. But the team has shown that they believe in every player on the roster to come in and prove their quality. Wednesday will be another opportunity for those players to shine.
Fans can tune in on ESPN+ on Wednesday night with kickoff set for 7:30pm ET. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English).