Atlanta United fall 3-1 to Columbus Crew in first Carolina Challenge Cup match

Atlanta United fell to Columbus Crew SC 3-1 Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium. Miguel Almirón scored his first preseason goal while Josef Martinez added the assist.

“It was almost our first official game and starting against a team like Columbus is always a risk,” Atlanta United Head Coach Tata Martino said. “From my point of view, the team showed a lot of positives, and obviously some negatives as well.  But in general terms, for the characteristics of the opponent, I’m okay with the performance of the team.”

Columbus opened up the scoring in the 13th minute from Pedro Santos. The Portuguese midfielder received a pass from Federico Higuain inside of the box and calmly slotted a shot past a diving Brad Guzan.

Although Atlanta dominated possession for much of the half, it was unable to get a shot on goal against Zack Steffen. Columbus was then able to double its lead in the 34th minute when Cristian Martinez knocked in an attempt from 40 yards out with Guzan off his line.

In the second half, Columbus made it 3-0 in the 71st minute after a Columbus corner kick deflected off of Josef Martinez for an own goal.

Atlanta tallied in the 90th minute from Almirón with an assist to Martinez. Off of a turnover, Atlanta quickly countered with Martinez feeding Almirón near the edge of the box. Almirón’s first touch led him in on goal where the Argentine beat Steffen to get Atlanta on the board.

Atlanta United returns to action in the Carolina Challenge Cup on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. against Minnesota United.

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