Atlanta United tied Charleston 0-0 on Saturday in its last preseason game.
Fielding a team of mostly reserves, the Five Stripes were led on offense by Andrew Carleton, who provided the team’s few threats on goal, and a few nice surprises on defense that included Franco Escobar on the right, Miles Robinson alongside Michael Parkhurst in the middle, and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu starting at defensive midfielder before shifting to right fullback.
Atlanta United went 0-1-2 in the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Columbus, 1-1 draw with Minnesota United and Saturday’s result. It will open the regular season on March 3 at Houston.
Manager Gerardo Martino made the wholesale changes he said would. The most interesting choices were up the middle where Robinson got the start at centerback, Wheeler-Omiunu got the start in central midfield and Carleton, typically a wide midfielder, moved into the middle as the playmaker. Of the three, only Carleton played in a league game last year and that was just a few minutes of a blowout win against Houston.
All three looked solid in the first half. Robinson’s passes were good out of the back. Wheeler-Omiunu made several crucial tackles and Carleton was the only bright spot on offense. He had a backheel pass that led to a shot over the goal, and had a header turned away for a corner kick. Carleton started to see more of the ball in the second half and his work paid off with a shot in the 56th minute that was deflected for a corner kick.
Carleton sprung Jon Gallagher, but the rookie’s shot was saved by Odisnel Cooper. The pass, perfectly touched, was hit with the outside of Carleton’s right foot, a one-timer that split the surprised Battery’s defense because of its audaciousness.