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Atlanta United extends unbeaten home streak in front of record crowd

Atlanta United has proven time and time again they never give up, and that never-say-die attitude was on full display against Orlando City Saturday evening as they fought back three times to extend their home unbeaten streak in front of a 70,425 MLS-record crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With Leandro González Pirez suspended with an accumulation of yellow cards and Greg Garza out with a muscle injury, Tata Martino was forced to shuffle deck from the squad that won twice this week by an aggregate score of 10-0. Jeff Larentowicz was moved back to central defense – with Julian Gressel taking his place in the middle – and Chris McCann made his third start of the season at left back. The full lineup to face Orlando City: Brad Guzan (GK), Chris McCann (LB), Jeff Larentowicz (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Anton Walkes (RB), Carlos Carmona (CM), Julian Gressel (CM), Yamil Asad (LW), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Josef Martinez (ST).

Despite a quick start for Atlanta United in which they forced the Orlando goalkeeper into action, it was the visiting side that broke the deadlock, with Dom Dwyer’s header making it 1-0 in the 10th minute. After banging two shots off the post, it was a beautiful passing move that equalized the match 36 minutes in. Tito Villalba cut in from the wing and laid it off to Julian Gressel, whose inch-perfect cutback from the byline found Josef Martinez at the back post for the tap-in equalizer.

The lead didn’t last long, with Dwyer’s second headed goal of the match stealing the lead for the Lions to make it 2-1 going into the half. But Atlanta fought back once again, with Josef Martinez leveling it with a powerful header off a Chris McCann cross to make it 2-2 ten minutes into the second half.

When Cyle Larin re-took the lead for Orlando just before the hour mark, the red, black and gold showed their resilience again. With 69 minutes on the clock, Yamil Asad sprayed a pass from the middle out to Tito Villalba on the wing. The Argentine took a touch and whipped in a killer cross to Josef Martinez, who beat his man to the near post to slot home his second hat-trick of the week and third of the season.

The match would end 3-3, with Atlanta United extending their unbeaten streak at home to nine games. But the real headline happened in the stands: Atlanta’s 70,425 fans in attendance set a new record for MLS, another historic moment for this incredible support from the Five Stripes Nation in Atlanta.

The march up the table continued for Atlanta, with the point enough to pull even on points with Columbus in 4th place in the Eastern Conference at the time of the final whistle, despite games in hand for the red, black and gold. It will be another quick turnaround, though, with the L.A. Galaxy coming to Atlanta for another home match on Wednesday. With 13 goals scored this week in Mercedes-Benz Stadium alone, it’s a match you won’t want to miss. Click here to reserve your spot.

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