Atlanta United's three-match September homestand signified several key firsts for the club. Gonzalo Pineda earned his first win as a head coach, the team played its first-ever Friday home match, striker Luiz Araújo scored his first goal, as did homegrown defender George Campbell, and the club’s all-time leading scorer Josef Martínez made league history.
Here are some other noteworthy moments from Atlanta’s successful September run, by the numbers:
The club has won seven of its last eight matches, including the four-game winning streak in August. Atlanta hasn’t had an eight-game stretch with these kind of results since 2018 (the club won six out of seven early in 2019).
Atlanta has scored 10 goals in its last three games, outscoring opponents 10-2 during the stretch and posting two clean sheets. The team put up three goals against Orlando, four against Cincinnati and three against D.C. United. This run marks just the second time that the club has ever scored three or more goals in three straight matches. The other time was in September 2017 when they scored three, seven, three and four goals in consecutive matches.
Striker Josef Martínez is currently sitting on 99 goals scored for Atlanta United in all competitions. The club’s all-time leading scorer reached no. 99 against D.C. United on a through ball from Barco and came very close to making history a couple of times later in the match. Martínez gets his next chance to join the century club when the club faces Philadelphia on Saturday.
During Atlanta’s largest win of the season in a 4-0 rout against FC Cincinnati on September 15, Martínez made his 100th regular season appearance. He also scored twice in that match, which gave him the league record for most goals scored (85) in his first 100 MLS matches. The brace against Cincinnati was Martínez’s 21st multi-goal game in MLS. Martínez is just the third player to reach 100 career appearances with Atlanta, joining goalkeeper Brad Guzan (123) and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (113).
Before this season, just two Atlanta United players had ever scored on a direct free kick: midfielders Kevin Kratz and Miguel Almiron. Against Cincinnati, Barco expanded the total to three when he scored on a free kick with a right-footed strike that went in the right corner of the net in the 86th minute. Then, Barco turned around and did the same in Atlanta’s next match against D.C. United with a world-class goal, becoming the first player in club history to score off a direct free kick in consecutive matches.
Alan Franco is the first and only player in Atlanta United history to record three assists in one game. The defender’s big day on the score sheet came against FC Cincinnati. He assisted Araújo’s breakaway goal in the fifth minute, sent a beautiful one-touch ball across the box in the 40th minute for the first of two Martínez goals, then had a secondary assist on Martínez’s second goal of the night in the 55th.
Atlanta United has had 40 different goal scorers in its history. Campbell added his name to the list when he scored his first career goal in Atlanta’s 3-0 win over Orlando City on a header served from midfielder Marcelino Moreno. Then on September 15, Araújo became the most recent addition, and the first Brazilian to score for the club, when he recorded his first goal since being signed on August 6.
At the end of the team’s three-game September homestand, Pineda called it “a perfect week.” Why? Not only did the team give Pineda his first win as head coach and first MLS Coach of the Week honors, the team went 3-0-0 during those games and picked up nine valuable points during a critical point in the season. The team entered the three-game stretch sitting three points below the playoff line and ended up in the sixth spot with 36 points, just five points below the second place team in the Eastern Conference. With nine matches remaining in the season, Atlanta looks poised to stay in the mix and compete for a playoff spot.