As host Atlanta United and USL affiliate Charleston Battery took the pitch to the tune of the US Open Cup’s theme song on Wednesday night, the PA system announced a lightning delay that would require the Fifth/Third Bank Stadium to be evacuated. A match that was scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff did not start until 10:10, concluding just after midnight.
Most of the crowd waited out the storm under the stadium roof, and greeted the new kickoff time with cheering. The supporters had a 10-minute turnaround to re-enter the gates, while the teams went through warm-ups.
It didn’t take long for the opening goal, as Charleston center back Forrest Lasso flicked in a long throw-in from O’Brian Woodbine in the fourth minute, Lasso’s second goal of the 2017 US Open Cup and sixth in all competitions. The Battery have utilized Lasso’s 6-foot-5-inch height on set piece situations to their advantage throughout the season.
Atlanta United leveled in the 30th minute, as a scramble inside the penalty area following a corner kick fell to Kevin Kratz, who finished at the back post for his first goal with the club.
Seconds later, a shot from Dante Marini deflected off Atlanta rookie Miles Robinson past Alec Kann to restore the Battery’s lead. At the time of the goal, the PA announcer was still reporting United’s earlier equalizer.
There was drama late in the first half, as a penalty was awarded to Charleston, Woodbine sending his shot over the crossbar.
The miss would haunt the Battery, as Atlanta United rallied for a 3-2 victory before a 9,458 crowd.
In the 48th minute, a rising Josef Martinez finished Brandon Vazquez’s cross for his first goal since missing 10 matches due to a torn quad.
Atlanta United finished their comeback, as Mikey Ambrose’s inch-perfect cross found the 18-year-old Vazquez for a simple finish in the 72nd minute.
Miggy ➡️ Mikey ➡️ Brandon
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) June 15, 2017
The home crowd’s collective heartbeat nearly stopped in the 88th minute, as Charleston players crowded Kann while the ball was in the air, and managed to force a bobble, before Lasso buried a shot, the goal disallowed for goalkeeper interference.
“The positive was we found a way to get through it,” Atlanta coach Tata Martino said. “As a team, we didn’t play very well, but we were able to win due to our perseverance.”
Atlanta United, which was making its US Open Cup debut, will visit Miami FC in a fifth-round match July 28.
The Battery play at Cincinnati FC in a USL match at 7 p.m. Saturday at 7 p.m.