Atlanta United got their fifth straight home win against a resilient San Jose Earthquakes on a rowdy Independence Day night at Bobby Dodd with goals from Josef Martinez, Carlos Carmona and Anton Walkes powering the team to a scintillating win in front of yet another sold out home crowd.
The first surprise of the night came an hour before kickoff, with goalkeeper Kyle Reynish making his first start for Atlanta United in place of the injured Alec Kann. The rest of Tata Martino’s starting lineup remained unchanged from Saturday’s matchup against Columbus: Kyle Reynish (GK), Anton Walkes (RB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Greg Garza (LB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Carlos Carmona (CM), Yamil Asad (LW), Miguel Almirón, Tito Villalba (RW), Josef Martinez (ST).
Despite a warm greeting from their home crowd, Atlanta found themselves behind in the second minute. The Earthquakes attempted a short passing move on the outside of the Atlanta box that was intercepted, but only deflected as far as San Jose’s Tommy Thompson. The midfielder collected the loose ball eighteen yards from goal and powered one past Reynish from close range.
Atlanta did gain a man advantage a half hour later. San Jose defender Kofie Sarkodie, who was cautioned for a high tackle on Yamil Asad earlier in the half, received a second yellow for pulling Asad to the ground from behind in the 32nd minute, bringing the Quakes down to ten men for the remainder of the match. Atlanta peppered the Quakes goal with shots, but were unable to equalize as the first half came to a close.
There were fireworks in the sky after the game, but the second half on the pitch was the true spectacle of the night. It started ten minutes into the second half, with Atlanta getting a deserved equalizer. Greg Garza beat his man on the wing and sent in a cross for Josef Martinez, who elevated over his man and headed the shot on goal. The keeper was able to bat away but only to the feet of Carlos Carmona, who slotted home to make it 1-1.
Josef Martinez’s aerial dominance was on display again just ten minutes later as Atlanta took the lead. It was Garza again sending in a cross from the left onto the head of the Venezuelan star, and this time the goalkeeper had no chance, with Josef’s powerful header flying into the back of the net.
Atlanta United’s fan section hadn’t even taken their seats when San Jose pegged the red, black and gold back again. One minute later, a deep cross from the left found veteran striker Chris Wondolowski, who thumped in a shocking equalizer from close range.
But with the clock ticking on and Atlanta desperate for a goal, there was a moment of magic. In the 81st minute, a short corner routine ended at the feet of second-half substitute Julian Gressel. The German’s cross to the back post was powered home by Anton Walkes, the 20-year-old’s first ever goal for the club.
Atlanta United wasn’t content with their lead. With San Jose’s defense stretched in search of an equalizer, Atlanta broke on one of their signature electric counterattacks in the 89th minute. Miguel Almirón beat his man and slid the ball to Josef Martinez, who thumped his team-best ninth goal of the season off the inside of the post and in.
That was all Atlanta would need, riding out the rest of stoppage time with ease in front of a noisy 44,974 people in the stands. The 4-2 final score was good enough for Atlanta’s fifth straight win at home, and pushes them into 4th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Five Stripes now receive a deserved break, then head South to face Orlando City on July 21st, before a rematch against the same club in the final game at Bobby Dodd Stadium on July 29th. Tickets for that historic night are still available, click here to make sure you have a spot.