MLS SOCCER

United advances to the Eastern Conference Final

ATLANTA — A goal by Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez have placed Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Final for the second year in a row, after a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia Union Thursday night.

The Five Stripes will face Toronto FC next Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for an opportunity to play in its second MLS Cup final.

Julian Gressel gave Atlanta the lead early in the match when it scored a wonder goal at the 10th minute off an assist by Pity Martinez. The play a quick 1-2 passing between Gressel and Pity, after Pity passed the ball to Gressel, he chipped it over Andre Blake.

The rest of the first half played out to a back and forth kind of game with both teams being physical but unable to finish its goal scoring opportunities.

At the 16th minute, Brad Guzan came away with an incredible save in a 1-on-1 situation with Union forward Brenden Aaronson. That was the best goal scoring opportunity Philadelphia had in the first 45 minutes.

The beginning of the second half began with Atlanta dominating the ball and looking to add a second goal to its lead.

At the 60th minute, Union goalkeeper Andre Blake had to come away with two saves in a matter of 10 seconds as Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Josef Martinez almost scored the security goal for Atlanta.

But at the 80th minute, Josef Martinez would finally score the second goal of the match for the Five Stripes after placing the ball just inside the near post off a left footed shot. The goal was created by a great cross by Gressel down the middle of the field.

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