Atlanta United got the rejuvenating victory they were searching for in a 3-0 dominant performance over Sporting Kansas City Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Led by a Martinez brace and another beautiful goal from Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta earned their 2nd straight win and three more points as they continue their surge up the Eastern Conference table.
Frank de Boer deployed a similar lineup to the team that topped Colorado last week in Atlanta with the exception of Michael Parkhurst and Eric Remedi who slotted into the XI, with Brek Shea and Jeff Larentowicz stepping out. The full XI vs Sporting KC: Brad Guzan (GK), Michael Parkhurst (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Miles Robinson (CB), Franco Escobar (RB), Eric Remedi (CM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Pity Martinez (CAM), Ezequiel Barco (LW), Josef Martinez (ST), Julian Gressel (RW).
The first few minutes of the match yielded a few chances to the home side, but after the game settled it was all Atlanta United, taking control of the game and confident in possession. The visitors were fast in transition producing a number of opportunities that fizzed just wide including efforts from Pity Martinez and Julian Gressel, but they couldn’t quite find the breakthrough. However in the 39th minute, they had their go-ahead goal from none other than the reigning Golden Boot Winner. Ezequiel Barco struck a knuckling ball from outside the penalty area and the Sporting keeper could only parry it, leaving it for Martinez who pounced on it before the keeper could recover the ball.
A 1-0 halftime scoreline quickly increased when, in just the first moments of the second half, Ezequiel Barco produced another piece of magic. A failed clearance fell to the Argentine’s feet at the top of the 18-yard-box and he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, sending a blistering strike into the corner of the net and doubling the lead for Atlanta.
Atlanta continued to hold strong in the second half, and in the 76th minute they had their security blanket. For the third time on the night, Barco was directly involved in the Atlanta goal, cutting in from the wing with pace as the team raced on in another counterattack and slipping a ball into the feet of Josef Martinez who – composed as ever – faked a shot to slide past a KC defender and sent yet another unstoppable strike for the Sporting KC keeper to defend.
While Martinez’s brace put the dagger in the Kansas City hearts, Jeff Larentowicz, Tito Villalba and Brek Shea all subbed on to help Atlanta United secure their 2nd straight victory.
Atlanta’s second straight road win sends them back to Atlanta pleased as they return home for a week with two home matches, the first test coming on Wednesday night as they host Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 7:00 p.m. EST. Be there to welcome home the Five Stripes and cheer them on to a third-straight victory. Tickets for that match are still available, so make sure you secure your seat, here.