Atlanta United defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0 Wednesday night at Nippert Stadium behind a second-half brace from Josef Martinez while Brad Guzan and Atlanta kept a league-high 14th clean sheet on the season.
Frank de Boer travels to Cincinnati with a strong line up, with a return of center back Leandro González Pirez who was serving a yellow card suspension. The full starting XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Franco Escobar (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Eric Remedi (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Emerson Hyndman (MID), Justin Meram (FWD), Jost Martinez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).
Atlanta controlled 77 percent of possession in the first half and recorded nine shots but couldn’t find a breakthrough as the match remained scoreless at halftime. Julian Gressel had a pair of chances, firing a shot over the crossbar in the 29th minute and later skipping a shot just past the far post in the 41st minute. In the 31st minute, Guzan made a diving save to stop a Maikel van der Werff header off a Frankie Amaya corner kick for his lone save of the night. Eric Remedi headed the resulting loose ball off the line to stop Cincinnati’s best chance of the half. Guzan recorded his league-high 14th clean sheet of the season and is two away from tying the MLS single-season record.
Josef Martinez scored the opening goal in the 59th minute. Martinez sprung a counter attack and found Pity Martinez near midfield, where the Argentine took two touches and split a pair of defenders with a return pass to find Martinez streaking in on goal. The Venezuelan calmly fired a shot to the far post past Przemslaw Tyton to extend his scoring streak to 15 MLS matches.
Josef Martinez doubled Atlanta’s lead in the 65th minute as he received a pass from Gressel at the top of the box, back-heeled a first touch towards goal and then faked one shot and side-stepped another Cincinnati defender before curling a left-footed shot into the side net. The Venezuelan has scored 26 goals and is now tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot race, two behind Carlos Vela.
Atlanta United (16-11-3, 51 points) returns to action Saturday, Sept. 21 against San Jose Earthquakes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (3:30 p.m. EST, Univision, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game). Make sure you’re there to cheer on the Five Stripes by securing your tickets here.