Heineken Rivalry Week has not disappointed. FC Dallas and Houston battled to an epic draw and the New York Derby featured a red card and came down to the wire with a heroic goal from David Villa. The first of a Friday doubleheader, Atlanta United routed their regional rival Orlando City 2-1 with goals from Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez and the new record holder Josef Martinez.
United struck first in the 21′ when they had a set piece just outside the 18-yard box. Ezequiel Barco launched a perfect ball into the penalty area with two options unmarked on the far side. The ball went straight through as it just missed two heads but after the keeper parried, LGP was there to poach the ball and score the match’s first goal.
In the 39′ Scott Sutter of Orlando City evened the score when he received a perfect dummy from Dom Dwyer and launched a rocket past Brad Guzan from around 20 yards out.
But clearly, the highlight of the match was Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez breaking the MLS goalscoring record for a single season. He was in a four-way tie last week when United defeated the Columbus Crew. But tonight, he stands alone with 28 goals on the season with eight games left to play.
Record signing Ezequiel Barco took advantage of his minutes tonight after being suspended for nearly a month. He had a welcomed return against Columbus last Saturday but he made a noticeable difference tonight. His chance creation and Miguel Almirón’s pace gave Orlando’s back line all they could handle.
My Man of the Match goes to the record breaker Josef Martinez. Orlando City did a solid job containing him but only for the first 70 minutes. With eight matches left in the regular season, Martinez has an opportunity to push this record into the great beyond.
Atlanta United sits atop the Eastern Conference standings with 54 points after tonight’s win, leading the charge for the Supporters’ Shield. Their next match is next Sunday against D.C. United in the nation’s capital at Audi Field.
Photo: Courtesy of ATLUTD