Recently, Atlanta United has had more than its fair share of rain delays. We had yet another today but thankfully it was nothing like the two and a half hour delay we experienced Wednesday night during their U.S. Open Cup match. Also on the night, United announced that Academy players George Bello, Lagos Kunga and Patrick Okonkwo have signed professional contracts. The trio will join Atlanta United as MLS Homegrown Players effective Jan. 1, 2018.
The Five Stripes came out in their usual lineup and some were shocked Josef Martinez was not part of the starting XI. But he played a full game’s worth of minutes on Wednesday and the last thing they want is for him to reaggravate his injury.
The first half saw two goals, one from each side. Tito Villalba netted a goal in the 16′ while Columbus Crew’s Federico Higuaín responded in the 26′. In the second half, ATL favorite Miguel “Miggy” Almirón slotted home a strike in the lower right corner.
But it was in the 87′ when everyone thought the match was well in-hand, that Josef Martinez (who was subbed in at the 63′) scored a left-footed goal from an impossible angle. Not only was the angle incredibly sharp, but even more impressive, he was 5-yards in front of goal. Kevin Kratz won a 50-50 ball in the final third and calmly led a pass to Martinez who nailed it home top shelf.
“Its all good news regarding Josef. He was able to play the entire game on Wednesday and he scored on Wednesday and then he was able to come into play tonight and score, so it’s all good news,” said manager Tata Martino. “It was a welcome return because we’re a better team when we have our goal scorer.”
“I’m happy with scoring a goal today. After the goal that I scored I was a little emotional, especially because before I came on I heard all of the fans applauding me and chanting my name” said United striker and goalscorer Josef Martinez. “I’m happy to get the goal tonight and I’m also happy for the work that my team is doing because we knew this was a really important game, especially with all of these games coming up.”
Speaking of which, their next game is Wednesday against D.C. United, followed by a Saturday match against Colorado Rapids, and then another U.S. Open Cup match the following Wednesday against Miami FC.