ATLANTA — Atlanta United and the Charleston Battery will play their U.S. Open Cup fourth-round contest Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. The game will be played behind closed doors with no fans allowed in the stadium. It will broadcast live on ESPN Plus, and credentialed media will be allowed to attend.
“The match is closed-door due to the immediate rescheduling of the event with insufficient time to secure staff and security personnel at the venue,” according to a statement from Atlanta United.
U.S. Soccer made the decision to play at the venue. Fifth Third is the home of Atlanta United 2 and has hosted Atlanta United U.S. Open Cup games and a Concacaf Champions League game.
The Five Stripes and Battery were supposed to play Tuesday night at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C., but U.S. Soccer ‘s match official abandoned the contest due to poor field conditions.
Heavy rains doused Charleston in the days leading up to the scheduled game, and several sandy spots littered the grass surface at the stadium Tuesday. About an hour before the scheduled start time, Atlanta manager Frank de Boer kicked a ball around with an assistant to get a read on the surface. Match officials and both coaching staffs engaged in lengthy conversations while walking the field. Players for both teams began warmups about 45 minutes before the scheduled kickoff. Officials called everyone off the field roughly a half-hour later.
“The Charleston Battery immediately reached out to alternative venues in the area, exploring the possibilities of playing the match within 24 hours,” a club statement said Tuesday night. “Unfortunately, and in addition to deteriorating weather conditions in the Charleston area, this option was not possible.”
Discussions between Atlanta, Charleston and U.S. Soccer regarding when and where to play the game lasted late Tuesday and all day Wednesday. Battery officials initially said a decision would be made by noon Wednesday. That deadline was pushed to mid-afternoon and then to Wednesday evening as the teams awaited word from U.S. Soccer.
A number of complicating factors affected a possible makeup date.
U.S. Soccer announced in April that all Open Cup matches through 2022 will be streamed live on ESPN Plus. Thus, any game venue must have the capacity to accommodate a television broadcast crew. The Battery play on the road against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a USL Championship game Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. The Open Cup’s Round-of-16 draw is Thursday, and games take place next Tuesday through Friday.
The Charleston Post-Courier reported Tuesday the game “will most likely be played Monday or Tuesday of next week.” A U.S. Soccer official told Pro Soccer USA “there is not an option to play early next week” because of the round-of-16 window.
The Battery hoped to play the makeup date in Charleston. About an hour after players left the field Tuesday, Battery president Mike Kelleher said he expected the Battery and Five Stripes to play Wednesday at the College of Charleston’s Soccer Stadium at Patriot’s Point.
That did not happen. Atlanta United left Charleston Wednesday morning with more rain coming down.