Charlotte Independence looking forward to challenging Atlanta United

Atlanta United fans wave flags and cheer during a match between Atlanta United and Saint Louis FC at Kennesaw State University. Christina Matacotta/

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

Atlanta United fans wave flags and cheer during a match between Atlanta United and Saint Louis FC at Kennesaw State University. Christina Matacotta/

Two Charlotte Independence players who are from Atlanta said it would be important for the club and players if they could upset Atlanta United in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match at Kennesaw State.

Clay Dimick played at Lassiter High School and is Charlotte’s captain. Austin Pack played at Chattahoochee High School and is Charlotte’s starting goalkeeper. Another Charlotte player, Nathan Gray, played in Atlanta United’s academy.

“That’s the goal for the Open Cup is to be the last team from (USL) League One standing and of course, push on from there, so to beat Atlanta would be a huge accomplishment for the club and for myself,” Pack said.

Charlotte’s players had just finished training when the tournament draw took place. They gathered in the locker room to watch on April 18. As soon as the two teams were paired, Pack said he had 10 missed calls and 30 text messages from folks asking for tickets.

Each player typically gets four, so Dimick and Pack have been asking for extras from teammates. Together, they estimate they will have as many as 70 people there supporting them in the 8,300-seat Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

“I think it’s a special opportunity,” Dimick said. “And then like I said, not just U.S. Open Cup, but in my hometown, so it definitely adds an element to it.”

Not that Atlanta United needs motivation after last year’s drubbing my Memphis, but Charlotte is a good team. It won at Central Valley, 3-1, in California on Friday to compile 10 points from its first five matches with a plus-3 goal difference. Its roster features former Manchester United and Newcastle starter Gabriel Obertan.

The team returned to Charlotte after Friday’s match and will bus to Kennesaw for Tuesday’s game. Dimick and Pack said they are used to the travel, so they don’t think it will be a factor that could negatively affect them on Tuesday.

The two said they know the match won’t be easy. They expect Atlanta United will dominate the ball. They will need to be patient and disciplined. They have played a team, Omaha, this season that, like Atlanta United, likes to try to control the match’s tempo. That match ended 0-0.

Atlanta United may show some urgency after it was beaten by Minnesota 2-1 on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to increase its winless streak to five matches.

That urgency may help Charlotte because it may result in a lack of discipline from the Five Stripes.

The Independence players are just looking forward to the opportunity to be that last USL club standing, which would require defeating Atlanta United.

“I think all the players want to play big games like this and I think it would bring the club a lot of joy from the owner, to the coaches, players,” Dimick said. “So I think it would be a fun experience and on an individual level and for other players be a good experience for their career.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 Atlanta United 2, Orlando 0

March 23 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 0

March 31 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 0

April 6 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

April 14 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

April 20 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

April 27 Atlanta United 1, Chicago 1

May 4 Minnesota 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 vs. Charlotte Independence in U.S. Open Cup, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

July 26 vs. D.C. United in Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, 4 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.