Atlanta United stormed back in the second half to score three goals in the final 20 minutes to defeat San Jose Earthquakes 4-3 Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. It was a late one for Atlanta fans since the kickoff time was 8 p.m. local time (11 p.m. EST) so a lot of you are just seeing the result this morning. Well if you couldn’t hang, you missed one heck of a comeback.
“The mentality of the team was really strong. There was no quit. We just kept going,” said Michael Parkhurst post-game. “It wasn’t our night defensively. We had a lot of mistakes, gave up some goals, but we hung in there and three points is three points.”
Josef Martinez scored twice, including the game-winner in second-half stoppage time, and Miguel Almirón added another as Atlanta picked up its 10th road win of the season to break the league’s all-time record for road wins in the post-shootout era. The win also secured a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference, guaranteeing the club at least one home MLS Cup Playoff game.
San Jose jumped out to an early lead thanks to Nick Lima in the 13′. The defender made a run deep into the box to join the attack and snuck to the far post to head in a cross from Shea Salinas for the 1-0 lead. A half hour later, Danny Hoesen doubled the lead for the Earthquakes after getting through on a long ball from San Jose’s half. Hoesen’s original shot attempt was saved by Brad Guzan, but on the ensuing rebound, Hoesen chipped a ball to the far post to make it 2-0.
Atlanta was able to get one back right before halftime with Tito Villalba sending in a screamer during first-half stoppage time. Quickly hitting a counterattack, Martinez held up a ball for Julian Gressel, who then sent a cross toward the far edge of the box for Villalba. The Argentine-born forward one-timed his shot into the upper right corner, leaving JT Marcinkowski no chance to make a save.
In the 58′, San Jose again went up by two goals as Vako Qazaishvili maneuvered through the Atlanta defense and struck with a left-footed shot into the left corner for a 3-1 lead.
Then, San Jose appeared to take a 4-1 lead about 10 minutes later from Chris Wondolowski, but VAR overturned a call on the build-up of the play, awarding Atlanta a penalty due to a handling infraction on Magnus Eriksson. Martinez stepped up to the spot and calmly scored with a low shot to the right corner to cut the deficit to one.
Just three minutes later, Almirón equalized after latching onto a loose ball in the box. Martinez capped the comeback by heading in a cross from Almirón in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Ezequiel Barco played Almirón free along the left wing and he immediately sent a cross to the far post that Martinez timed perfectly to head back into the net.
[Was the game exciting?] “Yeah, even though we’re happy with turning the game around and coming back two goals down, we can’t lose sight of the fact of all the errors that we made tonight and how we got into that situation in the first place,” said Tata Martino.
Atlanta United (18-5-6, 60 points) returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 22 when it hosts Real Salt Lake at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (7:00 p.m., FOX Sports Southeast, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).