Atlanta United defeated Toronto FC 2-0 Wednesday Night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The win marks their first against their Eastern Conference rivals who ended their run for the Supporters’ Shield late last season. Atlanta opened the scoring with a goal from Tito Villalba in the first half. Julian Gressel sealed the win with a goal early in the second half.
In the 17′ minute, Atlanta continued to press high in attack and their efforts paid off after Julian Gressel was fouled just outside the box. Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez stepped for a beautiful free kick that buzzed over the wall but goalkeeper Alex Bono made a diving save. Josef Martinez pounced on the rebound and sent a cross with a bit of bounce on it that found the foot of Tito Villalba to mark his first goal of the season.
Atlanta was constantly in attack mode through the second half. Their second goal came from Julian Gressel in the 66′ minute. Josef Martinez passed outside to Gressel, who cut inside the box and fire rocket past Bono to increase the lead to 2-0.
Atlanta United had another chance in the 76′ minute from Pity Martinez. The Argentine stepped up for a free kick attempt well outside the box. On his second attempt of the night, Martinez sent a rocket towards goal from the spot but the attempt swerved just wide and hit the post.
The stadium erupted in the 86′ minute when it was thought that substitute Dion Perreira had scored his first goal but Josef Martinez (who assisted) was ruled offside.
The five stripes tightened up defensively in the final minutes and were able to shut down Toronto FC to pick up the 2-0 victory.
Atlanta United has tallied four wins in the last five games and each win came with a clean sheet. “We are very happy for that (four wins)” said Leandro González-Pirez. “We’ve been working a lot on defending and possession.” LGP had a night of his own with extraordinary defending and crucial defensive clearances.
We saw better from the team tonight, specifically Tito Villalba and Pity Martinez. Manager Frank de Boer showed confidence in Pity’s performance tonight and allowed him the full 90. Tito showed better quality as did Pity, but tonight’s showing was by far the best of the season so far by Martinez.
Midfielder Dion Pereira was long overdue for another shot on the pitch and showed his promise immediately. He’s the type of quality that we should see more of during this tight stretch of matches (seven total for the month of May).
My man of the match is the goalscorer, Tito Villalba. He made a strong case for his starting position tonight with his runs, dribbling, and pace off the ball. It seems like Tata’s lot have started to adjust to the vision of “the farmer” (‘de Boer’ translated from Dutch).
Atlanta United will return to action Sunday, May 12, for a Mother’s Day rivalry battle with Orlando City SC.
Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD
Shots: 19-8 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 5-0 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 7-4 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 11-10 Toronto
Clearances: 19-12 Toronto
Offside: 4-2 Offside
Possession: 54-46 Toronto
Passing Accuracy: 89-88 Toronto