ATLANTA — A record-setting night for Josef Martinez gave Atlanta United a 2-1 win over New York City FC Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
With the two goals by Josef, he broke two new MLS records, he has now scored in 10 consecutive matches, and he has now scored 70 regular-season goals, the most by any MLS player in three years.
“He’s huge. We’re probably a bit spoiled. The ball goes in the box, and you just expect him to pop up and score from whatever angle – however difficult the pass is (or) the ball is. His first goal was world-class,” Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer said. “His ability – that separation in the box– and then, to get power behind the header to beat Sean Johnson. That is a fantastic finish, and we all know what he does from the penalty spot. Fair play to Joe Scally. I always say he’s huge for our team, and he showed it once again tonight.”
Atlanta United started the match on fire as the team had at least four opportunities of scoring the first goal in the first 10 minutes of the match, but the shot attempts were saved by Sean Johnson, or it would sail just outside of the net.
It wasn’t until the 35th minute when it looked like Atlanta would take its first lead of the match as Miles Robinson headed the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal off a free kick by Pity Martinez. Unfortunately, the play was reviewed by VAR and central referee Jair Marrufo, called a push on New York’s Alexander Callens by Robinson, and the goal was waved off.
Nonetheless, seven minutes later, it was none other than Josef who gave the Five Stripes its first lead of the match as he scored off a header after a cross by Julian Gressel. The goal by Josef was his 10th consecutive goal in MLS action, thus breaking a record that was owned by him and Portland’s Diego Valeri.
Early in the second half, both teams had its opportunity to score a goal, but it was at the 63rd minute when Josef extended Atlanta’s lead to two goals after scoring off a penalty kick. The penalty came after Pity Martinez was dragged down in the 18-yard box by an NYCFC defender.
Heber scored for NYCFC at the 80th minute, which led to an ending where it seemed that a tie would be possible, but at the end, Atlanta did just enough to secure the three points.
The Five Stripes will now face Club America from Mexico in Campeones Cup Wednesday night. The match will start at 8 p.m.
“It’s a great team. They have shown that they are a big team on the continent, and we
are very strong at home, so we have to go out and play and be mentally strong to win the game and win a title,” Pity Martinez said about facing Club America.
Man of the match
This award goes to the goal-scoring machine named Josef Martinez. At this point, it’s hard to name the records he has broken in MLS just because he has broken so many and has also won many awards. Since the departure of Miguel Almiron, Josef became the go-to player in this United squad, and he has accepted such role, as he has helped the team climb to the top of the Eastern Conference and helped the team advance to U.S. Open Cup final after a slow start to the season. Let’s hope Josef and company can keep the trend of winning games going in what will be the busiest time for the Five Stripes.