Atlanta United defeated the Portland Timbers 2-0 on the road in a rematch of the 2018 MLS Cup Final. Leandro González-Pirez and Josef Martinez provided the goals, Brad Guzan notched a clean sheet, and the club sits in first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time this calendar year.
In the 14′, Pity Martinez took a corner kick that made its way to Josef Martinez but bounced to González-Pirez. With a split-second reaction, LGP sent the ball to the back of the net and claimed the match’s first goal.
Just one minute into the start of the second half, the 2018 MLS MVP made his presence known. Julian Gressel sailed a beautiful low cross from about 30-yards out, beating the Timbers’ backline, and found the feet of Josef Martinez. He paused, settled his boots, and took a chance from distance that sailed past the keeper. That goal puts Martinez at 11 straight matches with a goal.
After multiple players spoke out about Frank de Boer’s tactics, the team took matters into their own hands and switched to what they know best: attack. While the manager is being credited with their style/tactical adjustments, it seems more like a ‘last straw’ moment for the players, who have dominated their matches since returning from the all-star break. Their last loss in league or tournament play was their 4-3 loss to LAFC in late-July.
The five stripes return to action Friday, August 23, when they travel to face Orlando City SC. They’ll return home Tuesday, August 27, to host the U.S. Open Cup Final against Minnesota United FC.
Photo: Hakim Wright