Gressel, Martinez, Peterson tally goals as club extends home unbeaten streak to 12 matches
Atlanta United clinched a berth in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs by defeating Philadelphia Union 3-0 on Wednesday night in front of 43,006 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Julian Gressel, Josef Martinez and Jacob Peterson scored for Atlanta United, which ran its home unbeaten streak to 12 consecutive matches.
“We’re going to try and go for that second spot,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “Now that we’re third, we’re in a position to reach another one of those goals, to be third or fourth and have a home game in the first round. But now that we’re there, we’re going to try and go for that second spot. With New York City winning tonight, they’re ahead but we have a game in hand.”
After dominating possession for most of the first half, Atlanta finally broke through in the 27th minute with a goal from Gressel. The rookie made a powerful run through the middle of Philadelphia’s defense, warded off two defenders and sent a ball to the far post past a diving Andre Blake to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
Martinez doubled the lead six minutes later with another perfectly-placed shot to the far post. Gressel picked up his ninth assist on the play, which moved him within one of Clint Mathis, who holds the MLS record for assists by a rookie (10).
Peterson finished the scoring with his third goal of the season in the 88th minute. Peterson tracked down a ball from Tito Villalba who played him on from the midfield line, then dribbled past Blake before sending a left-footed shot into an empty net.
Atlanta United (15-8-7, 52 points) returns to action Saturday, Sept. 30 when it takes on New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports Southeast.