ATLANTA — Atlanta United defeated Columbus Crew SC 3-1 Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 45,309 fans. Josef Martinez tied the league’s single-season goal record by scoring his 27th of the season, while Tito Villalba and Miguel Almirón each added tallies to help Atlanta move back on top of the Supporters’ Shield race.
Martinez tied the record in the 31st minute, beautifully finishing off a play that was started by Julian Gressel. The German midfielder intercepted a pass at midfield and started a counterattack with Martinez. The Golden Boot leader then took on a pair of Columbus defenders and brilliantly fired a left-footed shot from 18-yards into the bottom left corner to beat Zack Steffen.
Five minutes after halftime, Columbus equalized from Gyasi Zardes. Wil Trapp sent Zardes a long ball through the midfield, and after taking a couple of touches, Zardes sent a laser from about 25 yards out into the right corner.
But Villalba put Atlanta ahead for good in the 76th minute with a remarkable run from midfield. After receiving a pass from Jeff Larentowicz at the midfield line, Villalba outran a Columbus defender down the right sideline, entered the box, dribbled past two more Columbus defenders as he ran toward the opposite sideline, and fired back toward the far post to beat Steffen.
Almirón then doubled the lead six minutes later with his first goal in seven games. Again, it was Villalba surging down the right wing, but he crossed for Martinez who corralled the ball right on top of the 18. Martinez then played back for an oncoming Almirón, who immediately unleashed a left-footed shot for the left corner to beat a diving Steffen.
Atlanta United (15-4-6, 51 points) returns to action next Friday, Aug. 24 when it travels to play Orlando City SC (8:00 p.m., ESPN, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Atlanta United 3, Columbus Crew SC 1
Shots: 18-13 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 5-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 9-1 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 10-8 Columbus
Clearances: 25-12 Columbus
Offside: 3-0 Columbus
Possession: 52-48 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 86-84 Columbus
ATL – Josef Martinez (Julian Gressel) 31’ [HIGHLIGHT]
CLB – Gyasi Zardes (Wil Trapp) 50’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Tito Villalba (Jeff Larentowicz) 76’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Miguel Almirón (Josef Martinez, Tito Villalba) 82’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Chris McCann (yellow) 45+1’
ATL – Miguel Almirón (yellow) 83’
ATL – Tito Villalba (yellow) 86’
ATL – Brad Guzan (yellow) 88’
CLB – Artur (yellow) 90+4’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Chris McCann, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst ©; Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Remedi; Tito Villalba (Kevin Kratz – 85’), Miguel Almirón (Miles Robinson – 90+1’), Julian Gressel (Ezequiel Barco – 74’); Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Jose Hernandez, Andrew Carleton, Romario Williams.
COLUMBUS CREW SC STARTING LINEUP
Zack Steffen; Héctor Jiménez, Lalas Abubakar, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful; Artur, Wil Trapp ©; Pedro Santos (Luis Argudo – 86’), Federico Higuaín (Patrick Mullins – 70’), Edward Opoku (Justin Meram – 70’); Gyasi Zardes.
Substitutes not used: Jon Kempin, Ricardo Clark, Josh Williams, Milton Valenzuela.
Jair Marrufo (referee), Ian Anderson (assistant), Jeffrey Greeson (assistant), Ted Unkel (fourth), Jon Freemon (VAR).
- Josef Martinez tied the MLS single-season goal record by scoring his 27th in the 31st minute. He tied Roy Lassiter, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Chris Wondolowski.
- Martinez has also scored in his eighth consecutive match. He’s one shy of tying the league’s all-time record of nine, held by Diego Valeri.
- Until Villalba and Almiron scored, Martinez had scored the team’s previous nine goals.
- Julian Gressel picked up his ninth assist on the season on Martinez’s goal. Gressel has now equaled his assist tally from his rookie season last year.
- Jeff Larentowicz appeared in his 382nd career game, good for fourth place all-time in MLS history by a field player.
- Larentowicz also started his 363rd career MLS game, also ranking in fourth place in MLS history by a field player.
- Including today, Miguel Almirón, Martinez and Tito Villalba have scored in the same game three times. The first time it happened was also against Columbus, last season at Bobby Dodd Stadium (6/17/17) in a 3-1 win. The trio also scored in this season’s home opener against D.C. United (3/11/18) in a 3-1 win.