Atlanta United 2 won its season opener 2-0 against USL Championship expansion team Hartford Athletic Saturday night at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Jon Gallagher and Brandon Vazquez each scored while eight players made their team debuts.
“I am really happy. The lads worked really hard and had some great performances too,” ATL UTD 2 head coach Stephen Glass said. “The team had great quality on the ball and worked great off of it. They looked like they wanted to fight and win the game, so I am really happy with the group.”
After a fast start which saw attempts on target from Vazquez, Dion Pereira and George Bello inside the first half hour, Atlanta broke through in the 30th minute. Gallagher dribbled past a defender on the right wing and charged toward the 18-yard-box. The Irishman laid the ball off to Vazquez and ran into the penalty area looking for a return pass. Vazquez quickly took a shot which deflected off a Hartford defender. Gallagher continued his run as the ball fell to him, one-on-one with the goalkeeper where he buried a right-footed shot to put Atlanta up 1-0.
After taking five shots in the first half, Vazquez scored a well-earned goal in the 80th minute. Anderson Asiedu led a break towards goal and played Vazquez down the left side. The forward dribbled into the 18-yard-box, deked a defender to create space and curled a shot into the upper-right corner to put the match away. Vazquez took a game-high eight shots and put three on target.
George Campbell was named Man of the Match in his professional debut. The 17-year-old center back currently in Atlanta United’s Academy system completed a game-high 73 passes and recorded two tackles. He highlighted his night in the 64th minute when Hartford’s Sebastian Dalgaard was in on goal and Campbell chased down the midfielder with a sliding block to deny his shot out of play for a corner, which was ultimately cleared.
Atlanta presented a starting lineup which saw five players make their team debut including goalkeeper Brendan Moore, defenders Campbell and Florentin Pogba and midfielders Pereira and Asiedu. It was also Asiedu’s professional debut. Will Vint, a 17-year-old midfielder from Atlanta United’s Academy, came on in the second half to make his first professional appearance. Defender Guillermo Benitez and forward Luiz Fernando also made their team debuts as second half substitutes.
ATL UTD 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) returns to action Friday, March 15 against Louisville City FC at 7:30 p.m. EST at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.