Atlanta United defeated D.C. United 3-1 Sunday in front of an MLS single-game record attendance of 72,035. It was the third time Atlanta has broken the league’s single-game attendance record since opening play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last September. Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez and Tito Villalba all scored goals while Villalba also added a pair of assists.
Atlanta started the scoring in the 24th minute as Martinez finished off a textbook counterattack. It started with Darlington Nagbe freeing up Villalba up the right sideline. The forward then dribbled inside of the penalty area before perfectly threading a pass into the center of the box that Martinez emphatically drilled into the back of the net for the lead. Atlanta had a few more chances in the half, but was perhaps most impressive defensively, where it held D.C. United without a shot on target.
After a back-and-forth start to the second half, Atlanta put the game away with two goals in three minutes, starting with Almirón in the 73rd minute. Almirón actually started the play by keeping possession in a tight area near midfield before giving the ball to Villalba. After Villalba played to Julian Gressel, the ball came back to Almirón on the edge of the box, where the Paraguayan scorched a rocket into the upper left corner of the net.
Less than three minutes later, Villalba picked up his first goal after Atlanta played a short corner. The ball came back to Almirón on the near sideline, who then sent in a cross for Villalba who was able to flick a ball toward the back post that again beat D.C. United goalkeeper David Ousted.
Atlanta United (1-1-0, 3 points) returns to action against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, March 17 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports South).
Photo: Hakim Wright