Atlanta United had just a few days rest, crucial players rotated out of the starting lineup, and nearly 3,000 miles of travel under their belt –– but yet again they got three valuable road points with a rock-solid 1-0 win in Vancouver. It was the team’s fifth clean sheet victory in a row, setting a new MLS record, to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
Head coach Frank de Boer shuffled his pack with yet another two-match week for the team this week. Darlington Nagbe and Michael Parkhurst got to stay home in Atlanta to rest up, while Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel were saved for the bench with a big Eastern Conference clash against the Red Bulls coming up. That meant Florentin Pogba and Justin Meram each got their first start in the red, black and gold, while Brek Shea returned to the side and Jeff Larentowicz got the captain’s armband in his 401st MLS appearance. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Brek Shea (LB), Florentin Pogba (CB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Franco Escobar (RB), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Eric Remedi (CM), Pity Martinez (CAM), Justin Meram (LW), Josef Martinez (ST), Tito Villalba (RW).
The game started slow, with both teams showing the defensive solidity that has been their trademark over the past few matches. Atlanta United showed flashes of chances in the box, with Josef Martinez laying off to Jeff Larentowicz for a shot on target just a few minutes in. But just before the half hour mark, Atlanta United got their breakthrough. Pity Martinez was brought down in the box after a slick attacking move, and the ref pointed to the spot. Josef Martinez was as ruthless as ever, putting the ensuing penalty kick where no goalkeeper could save it to take the lead into halftime.
The second half produced chance after chance for the Five Stripes, with a spectacular triple save from the Vancouver goalkeeper the only thing that prevented the red, black and gold from doubling their lead just before he hour mark. The Whitecaps required a miracle save again just a few minutes later, with Josef Martinez’s point-blank header kept out of the back of the net. But with Julian Gressel, Dion Pereira and Miles Robinson coming on to shut up shop, the Atlanta United defense was just too strong for the hosts, with the clock ticking down to a fifth straight Atlanta United win.
The win brought Atlanta United up to third place in the Eastern Conferense standings, four points off first with two matches in hand. The team will now travel to Red Bull Arena to face a familiar Eastern Conference foe as they look to extend their winning streak and their run toward the top of the table. They’ll be back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on May 29th to face Minnesota United –– make sure you buy your tickets here.