The Atlanta Silverbacks entered their U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery of the USL looking to play spoiler and advance to the third round of the tournament. In the early minutes of the match Atlanta held much of the possession but failed to take advantage of their turns with the ball. For their part, Charleston was happy to sit back and absorb pressure. The Battery defense looked comfortable breaking up the Silverbacks forays into their third, preventing the home team from getting a shot on goal in the first half.
In the 20th minute Battery midfielder Ryan Arambula took a free kick a few yards outside of the center circle in the Atlanta half that found the flying forehead of center back Forrest Lasso who used his entire 6’5” frame to put the ball past Silverbacks keeper Thomas Hunter. Atlanta looked unsettled by the goal but in the 30th minute worked a nice bit of possession when Joao Johanning gathered a long ball on the right wing. The Silverbacks worked passes around the Charleston box but failed to threaten the Battery who cleared the ball after a few tense moments.
The Battery were forced to use their first sub in the 43rd minute when Forrest Lasso couldn’t continue due to cramps and was replaced by Taylor Mueller. The South Carolinians struck again when midfielder Jeffery Otoo scored his first professional goal when he slotted a shot past Hunter to put Charleston up 2-0 in the 44th minute.
Atlanta came out in the second half full of determination to find the goal. In the 52nd minute Johanning worked a cross to Ferrety Sousa who pushed his header just wide of the net. The Silverbacks continued to threaten Charleston and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty in the 71st minute. Alex Harlley stepped up and fired his spot kick past Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper to draw the Silverbacks to within one.
From then on Atlanta was fully committed to finding a second goal and in the 76th minute Johanning, who was seemingly everywhere on the pitch the entire match, fired a shot that hit the crossbar. Charleston had a few moments when they broke on the counter but didn’t want to overcommit and give the Silverbacks time to find an equalizer and send the game to extra time.
The Battery resorted to more physical play as the game wound down and in the 79th minute Charleston defender Skylar Thomas was called for a yellow card, giving Atlanta a free kick that was cleared from danger. The Silverbacks continued to press for a goal, but as the game wound down it seemed that fate would be against them. And indeed it was. Despite keeping the Battery on their heels for most of the second half, maintaining the majority of the possession, and creating better chances, the ball wouldn’t go into the net for a second time and the Silverbacks were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup.