Playing its first game of the season on a field that for one day after hours of rain seemed better suited for inspiring a country song than hosting soccer, Atlanta United defeated Nashville SC 3-1 on Saturday at First Tennessee Park.
A team that likes to connect passes, the Five Stripes had a few sequences of passes, but the wet field made it very difficult to play one-two combinations or hit passes into space for someone to run onto.
But the water also led to Atlanta United’s first goal when Josef Martinez jumped on a pass that was stopped by a puddle of water near the top of the penalty box. The goal was scored in the 58th minute, and Martinez celebrated with his usual stare into the crowd of 9,059.
Nashville SC tied the score in the 64th minute when Ropapa Mensah finished a beautiful counter-attack with a chip of Alec Kann. The pass was sent across the box by Alan Winn.
Atlanta United took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Brandon Vazquez in the 74th minute. Vazquez was put through on goal on a pass by Darlington Nagbe, who was one of several players, including Ezequiel Barco, who was making his Atlanta United debut.
Romario Williams, making his Atlanta United debut after spending last season on loan with Charleston in the USL, gave Atlanta United a 3-1 lead with a one-timed shot off a deflection off the goalkeeper in the 78th minute.
Atlanta United’s preseason will continue in Charleston with games against Columbus on Feb. 17, Minnesota United on Feb. 21 and Charleston on Feb. 24. The season will start at Houston on March 3.