Atlanta United’s red-hot form continued Saturday as the Five Stripes shut out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy with a 2-0 win on the road to stretch their unbeaten run to six matches.
Head Coach Tata Martino used much of the same lineup from last weekend’s matchup, with one major change: Ezequiel Barco started in place of Kevin Kratz for his first ever MLS start. The Argentine starting up top and pushing Almirón back into midfield, adding another potent weapon to the red, black and gold attack from the start. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Chris McCann (LCB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Leandro González Pirez (RCB), Greg Garza (LWB), Jeff Larentowicz (CDM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Julian Gressel (RWB), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Ezequiel Barco (ST), Josef Martinez (ST).
It was a tight opening stretch with both teams respecting the attacking prowess on both sides of the field. But Atlanta United made the first headline of the night just before the 20-minute mark, when Almirón skipped past a defender and was dragged down in the box for a penalty. Josef Martinez’s ensuing penalty kick was just wide, though, ricocheting off the bar to keep the score 0-0.
But the Venezuelan striker is so hungry for goals, and made amends for his mistake just three minutes later. Miguel Almirón drove into the box and slammed a shot from distance off the crossbar, but Atlanta United was able to get to the rebound first and recycle the ball back into possession. They swung it around to Julian Gressel on the right, who slammed another off the post from the opposite wing, but Josef Martinez pounced on the rebound to poke home the 1-0 goal from close range.
The second half was a tight battle between two potent offefnse, with Atlanta United defenders snuffing out attack after attack and limiting service to the Galaxy’s Swedish star up front, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Josef Martinez almost made it two, getting on the end of a cross in front of goal, only to be saved from close range in the 70th minute. Then Julian Gressel almost got in on the act a few minutes later, cutting inside and getting a clean shot off from close range that was saved again by Bingham in the Galaxy goal.
But Atlanta United would get the dagger that their play deserved in stoppage time. Second-half substitute Kevin Kratz pounced on a loose ball in midfield and drove forward into a shorthanded Galaxy defense. The defenders turned all their attention to Almirón, leaving Romario Williams on his own streaking into the box. The Jamaican forward was brought down inside the box, and Almirón put the icing on the cake with a cool shot from the spot to take the match by a final score of 2-0.
The win brings Atlanta United up to second place in the Eastern Conference, just one point off the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race. They’ll try to keep their unbeaten streak alive for a seventh straight game next weekend back home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Montreal Impact. Tickets for that are still available, make sure you’ve secured yours here.