Atlanta United defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0 Wednesday night at Nippert Stadium. The two goals for the Five Stripes were scored by Josef Martinez in the second half, here are my three thoughts from the match:
Putting the team on his back:
Josef Martinez has now tallied 21 goals during his 15 consecutive match scoring streak, the longest streak in MLS history. According to a post on Twitter by FIFA, the streak by Martinez is the fifth-longest in soccer history.
In a second half where Cincy looked like a better team and take the lead, it was the goal by Martinez that changed the momentum and sparked a boost of confidence towards the Five Stripes to believe that they could win. After the second goal by Martinez, which will definitely be a contender for goal of the year, Atlanta sealed the three road points, which will be pivotal as the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Martinez has now scored 26 goals this season, which is tied in second place with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and only two goals away from Carlos Vela in the league’s top goalscorer race. With only four matches remaining, it’ll be interesting to watch the final part of this race and see who comes out on top.
Staying in the hunt:
The Five Stripes have clinched a spot in the playoffs but with a club with so much talent in it, this team is definitely built to finish in the top of the standings. At the moment, Atlanta is in third place, just one point behind the Union and six behind NYCFC.
Although they do not control their destiny towards a first place finish, it’s important to remember that Atlanta will face the Cytizens Wednesday night and NYCFC and the Union will face off in the last match of the regular season.
But should Atlanta have any hope of finishing in the top two of the Eastern Conference, they must not play like they did the first 50 or so minutes of the game because that performance was not something players and fans are accustomed to seeing.
He’s a wall:
Brad Guzan posted his 14th shutout of the season Wednesday night, and he is now two shutouts away from tying the MLS record set by Tony Meola in 2000. At the moment, Atlanta have only allowed 36 goals, which is less than the number when comparing to 2017 and 2018 season, granted I know there are still four games remaining.
A big credit should also go out to the defenders, as they have also been a key part of this success. Here’s to hoping that Guzan is able to tie and break the record and also on his way to win the goalkeeper of the year award.