Atlanta United Advances Dramatically in the US Open Cup

On a night of heroes, goalkeeper Josh Cohen shines in penalties and secures the Five Stripes' qualification
Charleston Battery v Atlanta United: Round of 16 - 2024 U.S. Open Cup
Charleston Battery v Atlanta United: Round of 16 - 2024 U.S. Open Cup / David Jensen/USSF/GettyImages

On Tuesday night, Atlanta United provided one of the most thrilling moments of the US Open Cup, securing their spot in the quarterfinals after a dramatic penalty shootout against the Charleston Battery. In a game marked by determination and resilience, the Five Stripes showed why they are one of the most respected teams in Major League Soccer (MLS), even when facing difficulties against a USL Championship opponent.

From the opening whistle, it was clear that the match wouldn't be easy for Atlanta United. Charleston Battery, despite being in a lower division, displayed impressive defensive organization and didn't shy away from the MLS side. The 120 minutes of play, including extra time, were a tactical battle where both teams had their chances, but neither could break the deadlock.

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The real tension began when the referee signaled the end of extra time, taking the decision to the dreaded penalty shootout. At this moment, Atlanta United's goalkeeper, Josh Cohen, was preparing for what would be the biggest test of his career thus far. Penalties are, by nature, as much a psychological game as a technical one, and Cohen was about to demonstrate remarkable composure under pressure.

As the kicks progressed, the atmosphere in the stadium became electrifying. Each shot represented a step closer to victory or elimination. And it was at the crucial moment that Josh Cohen stood out. With precise reading and sharp reflexes, Cohen saved Charleston Battery's last two attempts, including Aaron Molloy's shot. His performance secured Atlanta United's 5-4 victory on penalties, propelling the team to the quarterfinals.

Josh Cohen's performance cannot be underestimated. On a night when the attackers couldn't find the back of the net, it was the goalkeeper who emerged as the unlikely hero. His saves not only spared the team from an early exit but also solidified his status as a key player in Atlanta United's aspirations in the competition.

It's important to highlight the work of coach Gonzalo Pineda, who knew how to keep the team focused and determined throughout the match. His ability to manage the team in adverse situations was crucial to the final result. Pineda's tactical choices, as well as his confidence in Cohen, proved to be right, reinforcing his reputation as one of the most promising coaches in the league.