Atlanta United finished the regular season on a high note Sunday, scoring two second-half goals to clinch a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution.
The major headline from pre-match was the return of Josef Martinez, who was back in the starting lineup after the knee injury that kept him out of the lineup the past two weeks. And after a substitute appearance, Ezequiel Barco also came into the starting lineup for the first time in months after his injury. The full starting XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Franco Escobar (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Jeff Larentowicz (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Emerson Hyndman (MID), Justin Meram (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).
Atlanta United jumped right onto the front foot, and took the lead inside of three minutes. It came from a sweeping move across the midfield, with Emerson Hyndman finding Josef Martinez in the middle, who played it out wide to Gressel on the right flank. Gressel’s cross came back into the middle and Darlington Nagbe’s first-time finish was pinpoint inside the far post to take the lead.
The Revs bounced back quickly, scoring the equalizer just a few minutes later. But Atlanta United kept up the pressure from there, peppering Matt Turner in the Revolution goal. Just after halftime, their pressure paid off with a second goal –– and it come from a likely combination. Julian Gressel received the ball in his own half and played a beautiful long through ball into the path of Josef Martinez, who ran behind the defense, took a touch, and smashed in the second goal of the match.
Julian Gressel sealed the match just minutes later. It came off of a corner kick, which was headed to the edge of the box. Gressel hit a low line drive that was too hot for the goalkeeper to handle, adding a goal to his two-assist match.
From there, it was a night of celebration. With just over ten minutes left, the lowest cheer of the night came for the introduction of Michael Parkhurst, who entered the field for his final MLS regular-season appearance. Parkhurst brought an air of nostalgia to a secure final ten minutes, securing the 3-1 win. He got a hero’s reception, with a special Golden Spike and on-field ceremony to commemorate a special occasion.
But his –– and the team’s –– season aren’t done yet. Next up is the MLS Cup Playoffs, and it starts with this same opponent in just a few weeks time. Be there as Atlanta United start their MLS Cup defense against the New England Revolution –– Click here to get your tickets now.