MLS SOCCER

Pity and Josef Martinez Propelled Atlanta United to Victory

Josef Martinez tries to sneak in for the steal against DC United #atlutd, #unitedandconquer, #MLS, #soccer

Pity and Josef Martinez Propelled Atlanta United to Victory

ATLANTA — Two late goals by Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez gave Atlanta a 2-0 victory over D.C. United Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 44,405 fans.

Late in the second half, it looked like Atlanta and D.C. would play to a tie in a match where both teams had opportunities to score but due to amazing goalkeeper saves or good defensive Plays, the ball was kept out from the back of the net by both teams. But at the 89th minute,

Julian Gressel played the ball to Darlington Nagbe down the right side of the 18-yard box, who then crossed it to the six-yard box, where Pity headed the ball into the back of the net.

The assist by Gressel became the 29th in his career, and he has now passed Miguel Almiron as the all-time assist leader in Atlanta United history.

Seconds after the first goal, Josef would score the second goal for Atlanta after receiving a pass from Pity, and he put the ball past D.C. United’s Bill Hamid by chipping the ball over him.

“The thing that impressed me the most tonight was our concentration. We were relentless in our ability to keep them pinned in and limit their chances. I’ve always said, our best form of defense is to attack, and we just kept going,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “Wave

after wave after wave, we were persistent with our ability, crosses, our possession. We were sloppy at times, but we’d win the ball back in good spots, and ultimately, we found a way to get the first goal, and as I’ve always said, goals change games.”

In the first half, Atlanta dominated possession with 72 percent, but both teams had their opportunities to take an early lead. For Atlanta, Josef and Nagbe had early chances at goal but D.C. United’s goalie Hamid would come away with saves to maintain his clean sheet.

Meanwhile, for D.C., the team had its most clear opportunity at the 33rd minute when Paul Arriola ran past Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, but his shot was stopped by Brad Guzan’s right foot and the ball sailed out of bounds.

Early in the second half, Atlanta kept pushing forward but the team couldn’t find the back of the net. And then at the 71st minute, Josef Martinez was knocked in the 18-yard box by D.C.’s

Russell Canouse, in which the referee immediately called a penalty kick. Unfortunately for Josef, the penalty attempt sailed way over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, Luciano Acosta had an opportunity for the first goal of the match but once again, Guzan came away with a big save to maintain his clean sheet.

“…Also, in the second half, we were concentrating, and we, also, really wanted to go for the win and also those we substituted and came in had a good appearance. For me, it was really satisfying to see everybody was in for it, especially with the intensity of the game and

concentration,” Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer said. “I think there was only one team who deserves to win tonight, and it was Atlanta United.”

Atlanta United will face the top team in MLS this season in LAFC Friday night. Kickoff will be at 10 p.m.

Man of the match: Brad Guzan

Sure, I could give the man of the match award to Pity Martinez for scoring the game-winner late in the match but if it wasn’t for Brad Guzan’s saves in the first 89 minutes, the goal by Pity Would have been just a consolation one. Guzan finished the match with three saves and recorded his 10th clean sheet of the season which helped the team extend it’s home unbeaten

streak to nine matches, the third-longest in club history. Guzan and company will look to extend that clean sheet record Friday night against Carlos Vela and LAFC.

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