MLS SOCCER

Philadelphia defeats United and claims top spot in Eastern Conference

Josef Martinez has now scored in 13 straight MLS matches, a record that has never happened in MLS

In a clash of top teams, Philadelphia Union handed Atlanta United its first loss in the month of August Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.

Three goals in the second half by the Union gave the team a vital three points in what is turning out to be a tight race towards first place in the Eastern Conference. 

“I think it’s clear to see that guys were carrying some heavy legs, but again you know it’s not an excuse. We stand up to it, we own it. [Philadelphia Union] are a good team, don’t take anything away from them, they’ve got good players,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “This was always going to be a tough game, regardless of our schedule leading to it. We now need to make sure we recover, and rest up mentally and physically the final push of the last few regular season games we come with good results.”

Josef Martinez gave the Five Stripes an early lead just before the end of the first half, in a play that began with Darlington Nagbe recovering the ball at midfield, then passed it to Martinez, who then passed it to Pity Martinez. In a fast sequence, Pity gave the ball back to Josef, who then passed it back to Nagbe and Nagbe returned the ball to Josef, who then went around goalkeeper Andre Blake and placed the ball into the back of the net. Josef has now scored in 13-straight MLS matches, a feat that no other MLS players has ever accomplished. 

But in the second half, where Atlanta looked tired, Brenden Aaronson tied the match at the 61st minute after receiving a long pass from teammate Haris Medunjanin. 

Josef had an opportunity to give Atlanta back the lead at the 78th minute after intercepting a pass from Andre Blake and shooting from a tight angle, but the ball hit the post and went out of bounds.

Then, at the 86th and 88th minute, Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos scored respectively to give the Union an important home victory.

With the win, Philadelphia has secured a place in the MLS playoffs after San Jose defeated Orlando 3-0. 

Meanwhile for Atlanta, the Five Stripes fell to 3rd place after New York City FC defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps.

United will now enjoy a two-week break before hosting the Columbus Crew September 14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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