With a vital three points on the line during a Saturday night clash north of the border, the Five Stripes arrived in Montreal and took all three points to help preserve their lead at the top of the standings with a 2-1 victory.
After half an hour of back and forth play from both teams Josef Martinez broke the scoreless tie with his 23rd goal of the season resulting off a cross from Hector Villalba. The goal continued Martinez’s dominance and brought him only four goals away from tying the all-time-scoring record with 11 games remaining for the 2018 regular season.
“What more can you say? The guy is phenomenal,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “He’s for sure going to break the record and at this point it’s just a matter of what he is going to finish on.”
The goal produced by an assist from Villalba came after a tactical switch from Tata Martino who brought the Argentinian to the left midfield role in place of the suspended Ezequiel Barco while Julian Gressel occupied the right. The change didn’t last long as he and Gressel were switched which helped provide Martinez with an exquisite ball to head home. Along with his sixth assist of the season, Villalba gave Montreal defenders headaches all night with quick runs and cuts into the box along with backtracking to help on the defensive side.
The one goal would be all the Atlanta attack could produce in the first 45 minutes as both clubs headed into an hour-long rain delay with the Five Stripes ahead 1-0.
Shortly after returning to the field after the delay, Josef Martinez continued his scoring ways after he received a lucky tap in off great defending from Franco Escobar and passing from Julian Gressel in the 57th minute.
Ignacio Piatti would find the back of the net for the Impact in the 87th minute but the two goals would prove to be enough for the visitors as Atlanta United continued their impressive road form against another Eastern Conference opponent.
Headlining the visiting side was the starting debut of Argentinian midfielder Eric Remedi who proved to be effective with quality passing and making a number of strong tackles which was vital in holding Piatti and company to only one goal.
“I thought his [Remedi] distribution with the ball was very good,” Guzan said. “Especially late on those moments when he is able to dribble out of tight situations. Those are big time plays that go unnoticed.”
The win helped Atlanta continue to distance themselves from the rest of the league and Eastern Conference foes as they look to secure the 2018 Supporters Shield and a potential first-round-bye in the 2018 MLS Playoffs.
The Five Stripes will look to make it three wins in a row when they host the defending champions (but also struggling) Toronto FC on August 4th.
My Man of the Match:
It’s hard to pick anyone other player than the guy who scored all the goals but that’s what I’m going to do. My man of the match is none other than Hector Villalba. His play on the wing was outstanding and was vital in providing Josef with another goal. Along with his attacking prowess he was a consistent help for the defensive effort by back tracking and making quality tackles when needed.
How did the staff do?
Drew: 2-1 Atlanta (Knew it all along)
Dalton: 3-1 Atlanta (should’ve listened to Dakota)
Kyle: 3-1 Atlanta (scrub central over here)