Atlanta United put two goals past D.C. United to earn a crucial three points and move up to replace D.C. in second in the MLS Eastern Conference. Goals from Pity and Josef Martinez (no relation) in the second half claimed the victory for Frank de Boer’s men.
Today’s match was the type of match that you wish you could see every week. Both clubs are overflowing with talent and it was a tightly contested match from start to finish.
Justin Meram started in place of Dion Pereira and Julian Gressel got the go-ahead once again as a false wingback. D.C. United started Luciano Acosta up top in place of Wayne Rooney who didn’t travel with the club due to minor injuries.
Both clubs had their chances in the first half but the second half is where things got interesting. Between the 60th and 70th minute, things were getting testy between the two sides. Between Acosta, Arriola, and Leandro Gónzalez-Pirez, it was a surprise that more yellows weren’t assigned (only to LGP).
In the 70th minute, Josef Martinez was fouled inside the box and awarded a penalty. Martinez did his signature move that involves tip-toeing to the ball and jumping before shooting. But D.C. United’s Bill Hamid held his line which threw off Josef and his attempt skied over the goal. A wasted opportunity for Atlanta.
In the 88th minute, Pity Martinez scored a magnificent header to give the home side the lead in the dying embers of the match. Darlington Nagbe dribbled to the goal line and fed a lofty cross into the penalty area where Martinez, unmarked, nailed a header past Hamid.
Josef Martinez was able to make up for his earlier miss when he scored in 90+2′. D.C. United gave the ball away at midfield. Pity Martinez played the ball forward and found Josef all alone. After a mad dash, Josef found himself 1 v 1 with the keeper, and when the timing was right, simply chipped Hamid from about 18-yards out to strike the final blow.
Atlanta United dominated the match with a mindblowing 72% possession and that’s with a full 11 on the away side. They had 629 passes which resulted in 85% pass accuracy. Things were clicking in the 3-5-2 formation. Julian Gressel commented on the formation after the match. “It looks good. Today, we played 11-vs-11, had 70-plus percent possession, and created a ton of chances, so like I said on Wednesday, I think it is something the coaching staff will look at, and we will have a big matchup coming up on Friday.”
Shots: 18-7 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 6-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 8-2 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 8-8 Tied
Clearances: 33-8 D.C.
Offside: 4-1 Atlanta
Possession: 71-29 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 86-67 Atlanta
The five stripes will hit the road to take on red-hot LAFC in Los Angeles on Friday, July 26, at 10 pm EST.