ATLANTA — In another chapter of the “rivalry of the south”, Atlanta United defeated Orlando City SC 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The two biggest takeaways from Sunday’s match was the fact that Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez finally scored his first goal in an Atlanta United kit and the Five Stripes have now won five out of its last six matches.
At the 14th minute of the first half, after receiving a pass from Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Tito Villalba ran down the left side of the field, where he found an open Pity Martinez, who was able to curl the ball and placed it into the top corner of the goal.
“Of course, when you have that amount of money when you buy somebody, you know there is pressure, because people expect a lot of you,” Atlanta United Manager Frank de Boer said, referring to Martínez’s reported $15 million price. “And he feels it also, and he wants to show it, of course. It’s a relief, especially for him, because we always believed that [the goal] will come. Of course you want it as quick as possible, but you have to work hard for it, and he did, and now he’s feeling his reward.”
The rest of the first half saw Atlanta have its fair chances to increase its lead but goalkeeper Brian Rowe would come away with a save and prevent the ball from going into the back of the net.
But there were also two instances in the first half where Dom Dwyer and Will Johnson had opportunities to tie the match but Atlanta’s goalkeeper Brad Guzan came away with two huge saves to keep the clean sheet.
After a fast-attacking first half, United struggled to find those same opportunities in the second half and at instances, it looked like Orlando was closer to tying the match than Atlanta was to scoring the second goal.
Another milestone that was reached in this match was by Jeff Larentowicz, who made his 400 MLS appearance when he came on at the 76th minute. He is now in third place in most appearances in MLS, behind Kyle Beckerman and Chad Marshall.
With Sunday’s victory, Atlanta has climbed up to 5th place with 17 points, while Orlando fell to 10th place with only 12 points.
“The confidence level is very high and it continues to grow. It’s nice when Josef got on the scoreboard a couple games ago and Pity gets on the scoreboard today,” Atlanta United Captain Michael Parkhurst said. “Different guys are stepping up every game. Everyone understands their role a little better now.”
Atlanta will now travel to Canada to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday night. Kickoff is set for 10 p.m.