KENNESAW, Ga. — Atlanta United defeated the Charleston Battery 3-1 after extra time at an empty Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Thursday night to advance to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup.
Justin Meram played Brandon Vázquez through on goal in the 110th minute, and Vázquez dribbled around Charleston keeper Jared van Schalk before tapping in to an open goal. Vázquez picked up his brace during stoppage time of extra time to complete the scoring. Meram added his second assist.
The fourth-round game kicked off 47-and-a-half hours and 319 miles from when and where it was meant to be played, so what’s another 30 minutes after the scheduled 90? That is the magic of the Cup.
The Five Stripes and Battery were drawn to meet at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C., Tuesday night. But, a match official abandoned the game due to poor field conditions, and U.S. Soccer decided to relocate with persistent rain in the Charleston area Wednesday and Thursday.
Ian Svantesson gave Charleston the lead in the 20th minute. Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann drifted wide of his goal and played a pass to Franco Escobar. The right back lost the ball in Atlanta’s defensive third. A.J. Paterson recovered and quickly passed to Svantesson, who put a first-time finish in off the post before Kann could scramble back in front of net.
Romario Williams scored his third-career Atlanta United goal to pull the Five Stripes level in the 78th minute. Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez sent a corner deep into the box. Miles Robinson headed back across goal and into traffic, and Williams lunged to poke the ball home.
Charleston scored in the 117th minute, but the offside flag went up. Arthur Bosua then chipped Kann in the 119th minute, but his shot went off the underside of the crossbar and back into the Atlanta keeper’s arms.
Atlanta and Charleston played in an empty stadium Thursday “due to the immediate rescheduling of the event with insufficient time to secure staff and security personnel at the venue,” per U.S. Soccer. The atmosphere, or lack thereof, was in stark contrast to what would have been seen with fans from both sides attending in Charleston.
Each “thud” of a kicked ball, each shout for a booking and each clatter into the advertising boards was heard from all corners of the 10,500-seat stadium. A Battery official told Pro Soccer USA Charleston had sold close to 4,000 tickets for the game at MUSC Health Stadium, which holds 5,100 seats.
Atlanta fielded a modestly rotated lineup. Kann gave Brad Guzan a rest in goal. Florentin Pogba spelled Leandro González-Pírez at centerback. Andrew Carleton received his first start of the year in midfield. Williams took the place of Josef Martínez, who is away on international duty with Venezuela. Mikey Ambrose was in the starting lineup announced for Tuesday, but Brek Shea got the call at left back Thursday.
The Five Stripes travel north to meet the Columbus Crew in the round of 16. The game kicks off from Columbus’ Mapfre Stadium on Tuesday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Atlanta United defeated the Charleston Battery after extra time to advance to the round of 16 in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. (Courtesy of Atlanta United)