Atlanta United hosted Eastern Conference opponents Montreal Impact Sunday afternoon with an opportunity to climb up the playoff ladder. Tata Martino’s side took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed a 2-0 win in Atlanta.
The match came after a 4-0 beat down of the Los Angeles Galaxy as United continues to solidify their contention for a playoff spot in the inaugural season.
“I think we’re almost assure of a playoff spot, especially because today we beat a direct opponent who is behind us and now we’re ten points clear of them in the standings.” Manager Gerardo Martino said, “Mathematically speaking we’re still not guaranteed a spot but we’re close.” Martino commented when asked about his club’s potential playoff position.
Forward Hector Villalba began the scoring for United after scoring a stunner in the 28th minute, giving the Argentine his 12th goal of the season, but more importantly giving the home side the lead.
Jeff Larentowitz gave the Five Stripes the goal that clinched the three points for the home side. Larentowitz found himself on the end of a Julian Gressel cross, giving the American midfielder his first goal with Atlanta United.
The match did not come without a heavy price paid for the Five Stripes, as the expansion team saw one it’s most influential players in Miguel Almiron be forced off the field in the 17th minute. Almiron has yet to miss a game this campaign, and has become a major factor for an attack that has taken the league by storm this season.
The match against the Impact was United’s fifth game in two weeks, which may have played a factor in the Paraguayan’s injury.
“Almiron’s coming off playing a lot of games with us and also playing two games with Paraguay. So, he’s played a lot of games.” Manager Martino said referring to the injury for the midfielder.
Although the expansion side will be without their number 10, the team has to move forward in order to clinch a playoff spot and to possibly make a deep run in the postseason.
The Five Stripes will attempt to grab another three points at home against Eastern Conference opponents Philadelphia Union. A three points for the expansion side will clinch a playoff position for the Five Stripes, this would be the first expansion club to appear in the postseason since Seattle accomplished the task in the 2009 campaign.