Atlanta United 3, Minnesota United 0 | 2019 MLS Match Recap
The defending MLS Cup champions got the ball rolling in the 21st minute, as Franco Escobar latched onto a wayward clearance from Minnesota center back Ike Opara. He made no mistake in lacing home into the side panel.
Absorbing pressure late and leading 1-0, Martinez then showed why in 2018 he won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award and set a single-season scoring record with 31 goals. In the 91st and 94th minutes, the Venezuelan forward twice smashed home with his right foot. The first came after some nifty footwork atop the 18-yard box, while the second occurred after a gifted breakaway. Both times, he got the best of Opara, the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year.
The Loons came closes to an equalizer in the 74th minute, when Brad Guzan was forced into three saves in quick succession. Somehow, some way, the US international goalkeeper kept the ball within inches of crossing the goal line. Otherwise, Minnesota offered little going forward.
- 23' – ATL – Franco Escobar | WATCH
- 90+1' – ATL – Josef Martinez | WATCH
- 90+4' – ATL – Josef Martinez | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After back-to-back losses on the road, some home cooking vaulted Atlanta back into the win column. The result also bumped the defending MLS Cup champions within two points of first place in the Eastern Conference standings. Meanwhile, the opposite unfolded for Minnesota, as they saw a two-game win streak snapped. The Loons hadn’t allowed a goal across their prior two MLS matches.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Frantic and scrappy is the best way to describe a series of Brad Guzan saves in the 74th minute. First came a doorstep detail of Minnesota center back Michael Boxall, then back-to-back swats at efforts from striker Angelo Rodriguez. By a whisker, Guzan kept the ball from crossing the line. And boy was it close.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: In his second start in as many games, Dion Pereira was electric on Atlanta’s left wing. With Minnesota in a 5-3-2 formation, the 20-year-old Englishman was often found dribbling past Hassani Dotson, a rookie whom Minnesota is covering to outside back. The final product wasn’t quite there from Pereira, but his incisive play was a needed outlet until Martinez sealed the deal late.