Josh Cohen saves Atlanta United in U.S. Open Cup win

Atlanta United midfielder Ashton Gordon #62 runs during the US Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery at Patriots Point Soccer Stadium in Mount Pleasant, SC on Tuesday May 21, 2024. (Photo by Mitch Martin/Atlanta United)

Credit: Mitch Martin/Atlanta United

Credit: Mitch Martin/Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Ashton Gordon #62 runs during the US Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery at Patriots Point Soccer Stadium in Mount Pleasant, SC on Tuesday May 21, 2024. (Photo by Mitch Martin/Atlanta United)

Josh Cohen’s left hand gave Atlanta United some hope by stopping two Charleston penalty kicks and the Five Stripes advanced into the next round of the U.S. Open Cup with a 5-4 win in penalty kicks Tuesday at Patriots Point in Charleston.

After the match finished 0-0 in regulation and two 15-minute periods of extra time, Cohen stopped Charleston’s fifth and sixth penalty kicks. Atlanta United’s first penalty kick in the best-of-five situation was saved. Charleston made its first four but Cohen stopped Diego Gutierrez’s attempt by diving to his left, and then stopped Aaron’s Molloy’s effort, which was hit down the middle. The quarterfinals are scheduled to be played July 9 and 10.

The victory was important for Atlanta United because it keeps its pursuit of a trophy alive, and it may provide a spark as the team continues through a stretch of nine matches in 30 days. Tuesday’s match was the sixth in the stretch. It was also a victory, something Atlanta United has experienced just twice since March. Both came in the U.S. Open.

That’s what made the shutout and win, because of Cohen’s saves, so needed.

“Coming back with a win here, especially after going a full 120 minutes, it’ll bring a little bit of good vibes into training throughout the week, and we can carry that into the weekend, have that high work rate but also find more joy in the game, both the trainings and in the final product,” Cohen said.

The schedule is so compressed that manager Gonzalo Pineda said Atlanta United didn’t have much time to prepare after Saturday’s match at Nashville. The team will host Los Angeles FC on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Pineda said he was very proud of the team because it fought for the result in difficult circumstances.

Pineda selected a lineup similar to the one that defeated Charlotte in the previous round of the tournament. Cohen started in goal with Luis Abram and Efrain Morales as the centerbacks, Ronald Hernandez and Matt Edwards as the fullbacks, Dax McCarty, Ashton Gordon and Nic Firmino in the midfield, Edwin Mosquera and Luke Brennan on the wings, and Jamal Thiare as the striker. Edwards and Brennan are mainstays for Atlanta United 2, and Gordon for the Under-17s. All three started against Charlotte.

Charleston went with the lineup that has helped put it on top of the USL Championship with an unbeaten record. It was led by Nicholas Markanich, who has 12 goals in 11 appearances.

Atlanta United finished regulation with 10 shots, two on goal, to Charleston’s 15 and 4, according to Google’s stats.

Lennon went first in penalty kicks. his effort to the lower left was saved by Charleston’s Daniel Kuzemka.

Arturo Rodriguez, Jackson Conway, MD Myers, and Graham Smith converted Charleston’s first four kicks. Daniel Rios, Bartosz Slisz, Hernandez and Firmino converted for Atlanta United, to set up Charleston’s fifth kick.

Had Gutierrez made it, Atlanta United’s run in the U.S. Open Cup would end.

Pineda and Cohen said Atlanta United did some prep for what they expected to be Charleston’s penalty kick takers. But when they kicks started, Cohen said it was about making a decision.

“I did my homework, I think, maybe the the left side is maybe more likely,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m committing to this gut feeling.’”

Cohen’s save sent the match into extra penalty kicks.

Stian Gregersen went down the middle and converted to give Atlanta United a 5-4 lead.

Molloy stepped to the spot for Charleston. He placed the ball right down the middle. Cohen said typically when a taker goes down the middle, they don’t hit it high for fear of putting it over the crossbar. Cohen didn’t want to jump early on the kick because he said he wanted that extra split-second to read it. He also wanted to stay low. So when the ball came flying near his head, he was ready to get a quick hand up and send the shot over the crossbar and Atlanta United into the next round.

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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 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte Independence 0 in U.S. Open Cup

May 11 D.C. United 3, Atlanta United 2

May 15 Cincinnati 1, Atlanta United 0

May 18 Atlanta United 1, Nashville 1

May 21 Atlanta United 5, Charleston 4, penalty kicks, in U.S. Open Cup

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.