Atlanta United are sitting pretty in second place but a win would push them ahead of NYCFC and in control of the East.
Record signing Ezequiel Barco started his second straight match up top with Josef Martinez.
United started the match with good possession and found their first chance in the 7′. Julian Gressel was streaking down the right flank and launched a cross that just missed Josef Martinez.
Montreal took advantage of a botched throw in and scored the first goal of the match. Montreal’s Saphir Taïder headed in an effort past Brad Guzan which caused hysteria between him and the backline.
The Five Stripes were forced into playing aggressive ball all afternoon. The Impact had been playing the counterattack ever since their first goal, pushing their backline high and pretty much parking the bus until United converted a late penalty try. A handball in the box gave United the chance to tie the game and Miguel Almirón converted the try.
In the 77′, Atlanta was gifted a free kick just outside the 18 (yard box). Kevin Kratz had entered the match just a few minutes before and everyone knew there was no other choice to take the kick (Kratz is the best free kick taker in the league outside of Sebastian Giovinco). The young German national lived up to his reputation and fired a howler passed the keeper which ignited the home crowd.
That penalty kick sparked an explosive attack in United and they weren’t finished scoring. Miguel Almirón notched his second goal after a defensive mistake by Montreal and increased the lead to two goals.
In stoppage time, Kevin Kratz did not shy away from the 25-yard opportunity and nailed yet another howler passed Montreal’s which sent the stadium into hysteria.
My Man of the Match is Kevin Kratz. He came in shortly after the start of the second half and took control of the match by scoring on both his free kick attempts. He scored two goals on two shot attempts from two penalty kicks. That’s a job well-done to me.
United will celebrate their home win and their spot as the new #1 in the East as they prepare for their next match against Chicago Fire Saturday, May 5. With the likes of Kevin Kratz and Tito Villalba coming off the bench, depth is definitely playing in their favor.
Photo: Hakim Wright