Atlanta United defeated Philadelphia Union 2-0 Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 41,507 fans to advance to the Eastern Conference Final where it will host Toronto FC on Wednesday, Oct. 30 (8:00 p.m., FS1, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game). Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez scored in each half while Atlanta kept its second consecutive clean sheet of the playoffs and its sixth in eight all-time playoff matches. Brad Guzan kept his seventh career shutout in 12 all-time playoff matches and moved into the top-10 in league history.
Atlanta took the lead in the 10th minute after a fast buildup through the midfield. Darlington Nagbe passed to Gressel who one-timed it to Pity Martinez. The Argentine took one touch before sending a return pass to Gressel who was streaking into the box unmarked down the right side. Sensing the danger, Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake rushed off his line, but Gressel chipped the ball over Blake, nicking the underside of the crossbar before it fell into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Each side pushed for a goal in a wide-open second half that saw 14 shots between both teams. However, Josef Martinez ultimately iced the game in the 80th minute with his first goal of the playoffs this year. Gressel played a long ball from the defensive third intended for Martinez. Union defender Mark McKenzie misjudged his header and the ball fell for the Venezuelan. Martinez took one touch into the box on the left side where he sent a left-footed rocket into the near corner that rattled the underside of the crossbar and into the net. It was Gressel’s second career assist and Martinez’s fifth career goal in the playoffs.
Shots: 12-12 Tied
Shots on Target: 5-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 5-4 Philadelphia
Fouls committed: 19-11 Philadelphia
Clearances: 22-13 Atlanta
Offside: 1-1 Tied
Possession: 53-47 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 85-84 Atlanta
- Brad Guzan picked up his seventh career clean sheet in the postseason, moving him into a tie for eighth place in MLS history. With one more, he’d move into a tie for fourth place. Kevin Hartman is the all-time leader with 15.
- Julian Gressel scored his first career postseason goal. It was his second career assist.
- Josef Martinez scored his fifth career postseason goal.
- Atlanta United has kept five clean sheets in six postseason matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Photo: Courtesy of Atlanta