Atlanta United took a short trip to Orlando to make swift news of their rivals Orlando City SC. The Five Stripes were victorious 2-1 Sunday night behind goals from Josef Martinez (penalty kick) and Ezequiel Barco. Atlanta has now won four straight matches on the road, tying the 10th longest streak in MLS history and has jumped to the top of the league’s table with 25 points. Alec Kann made his 2018 debut in goal and made five saves.

Manager Tata Martino commented on bagging six points in a weeks’ time: “It could have been nine points in a week if in the other game we had a little better
officiating and if we had played 11 on 11.”

Atlanta had an extremely successful first half, taking the lead 2-0, and racking up the chances. Ezequiel Barco nailed a one-time attempt in the top corner for his second goal of the season. Josef Martinez converted the penalty try after Greg Garza was pulled down in the box. Miguel Almirón created numerous chances and Greg Garza was a serious threat down the left flank.

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez ATLUTD
Atlanta United defender Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez makes a play on the ball in Sunday night’s match in Orlando against Orlando City SC

The only weakness United showed Sunday night was on defense. What would otherwise be considered a well-defended match, Miles Robinson made two consecutive mistakes that led to Orlando’s only goal. Aside from that, he did a great job defending and Tata agreed. “As I said after the LAFC game, he’s ready,” said Martino. “He’s a player who’s improved a lot over the course of the last year. So we know he’s ready to play on days when he has to step up and help us out like today.” Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez and Michael Parkhurst were defending like their lives depended on it after Orlando scored their first goal. With pressure on their backs and rain beginning to fall, the tides turned almost immediately for Orlando City.

It’s always nice for a club to have depth but Tata has done an above average job in managing all the talent that we have. Most clubs in MLS would love to have a player like Tito Villalba available on the bench. The rotation with him and Barco will be key heading down the stretch into the playoffs. We’re also fortunate to have an underrated striker like Romario Williams and a free kick specialist in Kevin Kratz on the bench as well.

But Atlanta made it out with a precious three points to bring their record to (8-2-1) with a total of 25 points. Their next match is this coming Sunday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at home against the New York Red Bulls on FS1.

-Jon J.

*Photos Courtesy of ATL UTD

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