ATLANTA – A stoppage-time winner from Jake Mulraney in the 96th minute broke a 1-1 tie as Atlanta United crushed Charlotte FC’s hopes for their first point as a club with a 2-1 defeat on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Mulraney’s strike past a deflection off Charlotte defender Christian Makoun found the back of the net off of a resulting counter from a Charlotte corner-kick attempt.
It was a set piece from that very spot that yielded Charlotte FC’s first goal as a club as Cary, NC native Adam Armour headed in Ben Bender’s service to the box in the 66th minute.
Bender, making his first start in MLS after being drafted #1 overall by Charlotte was not too big for the moment, per his head coach.
“The first 15-20 minutes he was really scared. nervous, stressed because he’s a 2001 boy, playing for the first time in starting 11 in MLS which is normal,” Miguel Angel Ramirez said. “But then with the minutes, he was the master of the pitch.”
Ramirez also complimented Armour for his infusion to the Charlotte lineup as a halftime sub, one week after being left off the matchday roster.
“He was out of the roster last week, of course he was disappointed. His response the day after the game in training was amazing,” Ramirez said. “I put him as an example in front of the players, he came with his best energy, and the game rewarded him.”
Ramirez said the match lived up to the pre-match billing of this pairing as a rivalry.
“Barca needs Real Madrid, it’s amazing to have these kind of games, these clasicos, it’s always for the good of the game.”
Mulraney’s winner prevailed for an Atlanta United side whose only previous tally came off a 60th-minute penalty earned on a Makoun takedown of Brooks Lennon in the penalty area. Josef Martinez finished the penalty for his first goal of the season.
When asked about the team’s mentality, the head coach responded with pride.
“Tomorrow they will rest, so Tuesday they have better energy. Now I’m going to show them I care and give them the compassion they deserve,” Ramirez said. “So, they know their coach is very proud of them. I want to keep fighting to get the win we deserve.”
Charlotte FC returns to the pitch on Saturday night at home, hosting New England Revolution. Coverage begins on WBT AM 1110/99.3 FM at 6:30, with first kick just after 7 PM.