An electric 3-0 win in front of the biggest regular-season crowd in MLS history –– Atlanta United fans couldn’t ask much more after another incredible night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The big news pre-match was the return of Ezequiel Barco to the starting lineup after his injury absence, but a shorter injury absence also came to an end, with Florentin Pogba returning to the starting lineup in place of the suspended Leandro González Pirez. And Jeff Larentowicz got the nod over Eric Remedi, facing off against his former club in the Galaxy. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Florentin Pogba (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Franco Escobar (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Jeff Larentowicz (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Ezequiel Barco (MID), Justin Meram (FWD), Josef Martinez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).
After the Atlanta United faithful’s jawdropping pre-match TIFO was over, it was time for business –– and it was a breakneck speed right off the bat with two teams going right after each other from the opening whistle. But after 23 minutes, it was Atlanta United that jumped on top of the match with the opening goal. It started with a driving run and a incisive, line-breaking pass from Ezequiel Barco to find Pity Martínez one-on-one with his defender on the wing. He took his man on without hesitation, cutting to the byline and sending a cross that the defender could only divert into his own net.
Atlanta United’s pressure was relentless, and it paid off with a second goal just before halftime. Miles Robinson’s direct pass found Josef Martinez’s foot just outside the box. Martinez laid it off to Meram on the wing and cut into the box. Meram’s cross was inches away from finding Josef in front of goal, but the Galaxy defender got to the ball first –– but could only divert it into his own net again.
Atlanta United continued their dominance after the second-half whistle, and it paid off with a third goal. After Justin Meram was brought down in the box, the ref pointed to the penalty spot, and it was Josef Martinez who slammed the door on the match with a lethal finish inside the side netting. It was his ninth straight MLS game with a goal, tying the record for the longest streak in MLS history.
The game was all but over from there, and the rowdy and proud Atlanta United supporters made sure of it with another incredible showing of support. 72,548 fans were in the building, breaking their own record for most fans at a regular-season MLS match. The result pushes Atlanta United up into first place in the Eastern Conference at the time of the final whistle, even on matches with Philadelphia in second place.
The Five Stripes now shift back to cup competition, with a Tuesday matchup against Orlando City in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup coming just around the corner. They’ll then return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face red-hot NYCFC next weekend in a huge Eastern Conference matchup. Tickets to that match are still available –– make sure you’ve secured yours here.