Saturday marked the first MLS preseason match for Atlanta United FC, and set in motion the “March to March,” for the inaugural 2017 MLS campaign. Atlanta took on Columbus Crew in Charleston to open the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup. At the half Atlanta led 1-0 off of an early header from Josef Martinez (#7). After the break, however, the experience of Columbus proved too much for the newly appointed Atlanta side to handle. After a brace from veteran forward, Federico Higuain, Columbus looked the more polished side holding out to finish the match 2-1.
Tata’s starting eleven looked just like the one from a few weeks ago in Chattanooga with one exception, Josef Martinez started in the place of Yamil Asad, who suffered a minor calf contusion in training prior to the match. Five changes were made in the second half, Jacob Peterson, Mark Bloom, Julian Gressel, Harrison Heath, and Andrew Carleton.
While it was not the result Atlanta United, and their fans, might have wanted, you must give credit where credit is due. After only one prior match, and it being Atlanta’s first taste of MLS competition, a 2-1 closely contested defeat is not a bad result. Preseason is about building up to the regular season and ironing out the kinks. For a first year side, it is not logical to have nothing to work on.