Atlanta United handle Orlando City SC 1-0 during Heineken Rivalry Week

Atlanta United defeated Orlando City SC 1-0 Friday night at Exploria Stadium. Josef Martinez extended his MLS-record scoring streak to 12 consecutive matches while Brad Guzan posted his league-leading 13th clean sheet and broke the team’s single-season record.

After an end-to-end opening to the match, Pity Martinez nearly put Atlanta in the lead in the 24′ minute when he fired a low shot for the bottom corner, but his attempt missed just wide of the left post. Atlanta’s best chance of the first half came in the 31′ minute through Ezequiel Barco. Julian Gressel’s cross from the right side took a deflection and fell to Barco at the top of the box. He evaded a pair of defenders with a quick first move and blasted a shot with his right foot, but it was hit directly at Orlando goalkeeper Brian Rowe.

Atlanta opened the scoring for the ninth consecutive match when Josef Martinez scored in the 60′ minute on a counter-attack that began with a quick succession of passes in its own half. Barco and Pity Martinez combined for a one-two in the midfield where Barco found Josef Martinez in transition. Josef passed to Barco near the top of the box where he took a couple of touches before returning the ball back to Martinez on the left side. On the edge of the penalty area, Martinez one-timed a curling strike into the right side of the net for his seventh goal against Orlando, the most against any opponent in his MLS career.

Martinez nearly doubled Atlanta’s lead in the 68′ minute when he had a chip shot hit the left post and again in the 80′ minute when he was denied by Rowe from close-range after a cross from Tito Villalba.

Florentin Pogba impressed from start to finish, making goal-line clearances and stopping multiple chances from Orlando’s attack. His rise to a place in the starting XI has been slow, but now that he’s here, he’s making all the difference in defense. He’s shown physicality that has yet to be matched as he can be seen mowing over opponents with ease and confidently winning 50-50 balls.

Atlanta United (15-9-3, 48 points) returns to action Tuesday, Aug. 27 against Minnesota United in the U.S. Open Cup Final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8:00 p.m. EST, ESPN+). Its next MLS match is Saturday, Aug. 31 against Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Southeast, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).

 

-Jon J.

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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