ATLANTA —In the team’s first home match since May 12, goals by Franco Escobar and Josef Martinez lifted the Five Stripes to a 3-0 victory against Minnesota United.
Escobar scored the first goal of the night at the 23rd minute after Julian Gressel passed the ball to Pity Martinez, but a deflection by a Minnesota defender led to the ball falling into Escobar’s right foot. Escobar finished the play by shooting the ball into the left side of the goal, his first of the 2019 season.
“Franco had a great performance, a great game. Against a team who wants to drop deep, you have to have wingbacks or fullbacks who support the attack. He is the modern type of fullback that can go up and down for 90 minutes. He showed it today,” Atlanta United Manager Frank De Boer said. “On his goal, Pity makes the run inside, and the ball slips to Franco, and he scores a fantastic goal. This is what we want from our fullbacks. Sometimes, they have to come in the midfield. But yeah, this is how we want to play. Recognize the moments where we have to stand, and the shape has to be well. Tonight, for the first hour of the match, we had good control. That was very pleasing to see.”
In the second half, the Loons had three chances to score the tying goal within a matter of seconds from each other but saves by goalkeeper Brad Guzan helped him keep Minnesota scoreless.
With the match into stoppage time, at the 91st minute, Gressel dribbled the midfield and found an open Martinez, who faced a one-on-one situation with Ike Opara and Osvaldo Alonso. Martinez was able to dribble through both defenders and shot the ball perfectly with his right foot and placed the ball into the back of the net.
Minutes later, an error by Opara led to Martinez having the ball all by himself in another one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Vito Mannone, in which Martinez shot the ball into the top left corner of the goal, thus giving him two goals for the night.
“Winning 1-0, 5-0, 10-0 is the same. If I score the one goal, then I’m happy, but you can never put your head down. They kept going for it and had a chance and didn’t take it. We relaxed a little in the last 10 minutes and luckily were given two balls,” Martinez said about the feelings of winning 1-0 compared to winning 3-0. “We have to think the same way from the first minute to the 95th. This team can’t keep thinking that we were champions last year. A lot of people are still celebrating that title, but that isn’t the way. The way is to win every game.”
Atlanta United (7-5-2, 23 points) will be back at home Saturday night against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.