COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Atlanta United defeated Colorado Rapids 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to pick up its ninth road win of the season, tying an MLS record. All three goals came in the first half as Miguel Almirón picked up a brace and Tito Villalba added a third to lead Atlanta back to the top of the Supporters’ Shield race. The game also marked the return of Darlington Nagbe, who started and played 77 minutes in his first appearance since June 24. Nagbe also completed all 33 of his passes, including 16 in the opposing half.
Atlanta broke through in the 10th minute from Almirón finishing off a cross from Julian Gressel. But the play started with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez dribbling out of pressure in Atlanta’s half before sending a diagonal ball for Gressel in the attacking half. The German midfielder took a touch before sending a ball across the mouth of the goal where Almirón latched onto it and beat Tim Howard with a blast into the top corner.
Almirón doubled the lead just eight minutes later. With Atlanta pressing Colorado deep in their end, Villalba knocked a ball loose that Eric Remedi played forward for Josef Martinez. Joined by Almirón, the two Atlanta forwards raced in on a Colorado defender with Martinez ultimately laying it off for the Paraguayan to finish his brace.
Villalba made it 3-0 in the 37th minute as Atlanta struck quickly again. After forcing a turnover, Atlanta quickly countered with Almirón launching a ball forward for Gressel. He then raced in toward goal and sent a ball in on goal for a streaking Villalba, who hammered it past Howard.
Atlanta United (17-5-6, 57 points) returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 19 when it travels to play San Jose Earthquakes (11:00 p.m. EST, UniMas, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Atlanta United 3, Colorado Rapids 0
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, Colorado
Shots: 18-8 Colorado
Shots on Target: 6-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 5-2 Colorado
Fouls committed: 13-11 Atlanta
Clearances: 7-6 Atlanta
Offside: 3-2 Colorado
Possession: 51-49 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 85-85
ATL – Miguel Almirón (Julian Gressel, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez) 10’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Miguel Almirón (Josef Martinez, Eric Remedi) 18’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Tito Villalba (Julian Gressel, Miguel Almirón) 37’ [HIGHLIGHT]
COL – Kortne Ford (yellow) 34’
COL – Edgar Castillo (yellow) 45+3’
ATL – Tito Villalba (yellow) 45+4’
COL — Shkëlzen Gashi (yellow) 90+4’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst ©, Jeff Larentowicz; Chris McCann, Eric Remedi, Darlington Nagbe (Kevin Kratz – 77’), Miguel Almirón (Andrew Carleton – 86’), Julian Gressel; Tito Villalba (Ezequiel Barco – 69’), Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, George Bello, Franco Escobar, Romario Williams.
COLORADO RAPIDS STARTING LINEUP
Tim Howard ©; Edgar Castillo, Tommy Smith, Marlon Hairston, Kortne Ford; Jack Price, Dillon Serna, Bismarck Boateng (Cole Bassett – 81’), Kellyn Acosta; Sam Nicholson (Niki Jackson – HT), Giles Barnes (Shkëlzen Gashi – 62’)
Substitutes not used: Zac MacMath, Johan Blomberg, Danny Wilson, Deklan Wynne.
Sorin Stoica (referee), Kyle Atkins (assistant), TJ Zablocki (assistant), Baldomero Toledo (fourth), Younes Marrakchi (VAR).
- Miguel Almirón became the third player this season to register double-digits in goals (11) and assists (12), joining Diego Valeri and Sebastian Giovinco.
- Almirón and Julian Gressel each now have 12 assists, two off of the MLS lead.
- Each player has also registered 20-plus assists over the last two seasons. They are two of 10 players in MLS to have done that so far.
- Jeff Larentowicz appeared in his 385th career match, good for fourth place all-time in MLS history by a field player.
- Larentowicz also started his 366th career MLS match, also ranking in fourth place in MLS history by a field player.
- Atlanta’s +26 goal-differential is now tied for sixth best in MLS history. That’s +56 over the last two seasons, second best in league history in 2-year span.
- The teams broke for hydration breaks in the 30th and 75th minutes