Escobar tallies first club goal, Atlanta qualifies for 2019 Concacaf Champions League
ATLANTA (October 21, 2018)— Atlanta United defeated Chicago Fire 2-1 Sunday afternoon and tied the MLS record for points in a season (69) on Sunday. In front of 71,812 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Franco Escobar scored his first goal with club and Johan Kappelhof’s second-half own goal gave Atlanta the lead for good. With the win, Atlanta clinched a berth in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League, as it secured the best overall record over the last two MLS seasons, and kept the club one point ahead of New York Red Bulls in the MLS Supporters’ Shield race.
Escobar struck in the ninth minute to give Atlanta the lead, as he hammered a loose ball with his left foot into the far corner. Ezequiel Barco started the play along the left sideline by sending a long diagonal ball for Escobar. The right back tried to originally play a ball in for Josef Martinez, but the ball ricocheted back to Escobar, who quickly hammered a first touch into the far corner.
Chicago tied the match in the 24th minute from Michael de Leeuw. Brandt Bronico split the Atlanta backline with a through ball for Djordje Mihailovic, who tapped it over for de Leeuw. The Dutch forward then calmly slotted the equalizer to the far post.
But Atlanta re-gained the lead less than two minutes later from an own goal on Kappelhof. The play started with Andrew Carleton playing Chris McCann in along the left sideline. McCann then sent a cross in toward goal, but Kappelhof’s diving clearance attempt ultimately re-directed the ball off the far post and into the back of the net.
Atlanta United (21-6-6, 69 points) can win the Supporters’ Shield with a win in its MLS Regular Season finale against Toronto FC on Sunday, Oct. 28 (4:30 p.m., FOX Sports South, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Atlanta United 2, Chicago Fire 1
Shots: 13-7 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 5-1 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 5-4 Chicago
Fouls committed: 11-11
Saves: 4-1 Chicago
Clearances: 19-15 Atlanta
Offside: 3-1 Chicago
Passing Accuracy: 86-82 Atlanta
ATL – Franco Escobar 9’ [HIGHLIGHT]
CHI – Michael de Leeuw (Djordje Mihailovic, Brandt Bronico) 24’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Johan Kappelhof (own goal) 26’ [HIGHLIGHT]
CHI – Johan Kappelhof (yellow) 72’
ATL – Eric Remedi (yellow) 81’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Chris McCann, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst ©, Franco Escobar; Eric Remedi, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel; Ezequiel Barco (Kevin Kratz – 86’), Josef Martinez, Andrew Carleton (Jeff Larentowicz – 67’).
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, George Bello, Greg Garza, Miles Robinson, Lagos Kunga.
CHICAGO FIRE STARTING LINEUP
Patrick McLain; Brandon Vincent, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Johan Kappelhof, Diego Campos (Matt Polster – 73’); Brandt Bronico, Dax McCarty ©; Aleksander Katai, Djordje Mihailovic (Yura Movsisyan – 73’), Michael de Leeuw (Raheem Edwards – 64’); Nemanja Nikolic.
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Alan Gordon, Jonathan Campbell, Jorge Corrales.
Drew Fischer (referee), Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho (assistant), Cameron Blanchard (assistant), Jose Carlos Rivero (fourth), Allen Chapman (VAR).
- Atlanta officially broke the season total attendance (901,033) and season average (53,002). The club broke each of its own records from 2017.
- Jeff Larentowicz played in his 390th career game, which is fourth in MLS history among field players. He’s two behind Brad Davis for third place.
- Franco Escobar scored his first goal with the club.
- Josef Martinez now has six assists, the most he’s had in a single-season in his professional career.
- Greg Garza made his return to a match day roster.
- Lagos Kunga made a match day roster for the first time in his career. Kunga made his Atlanta United debut in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a Round of 16 match vs. Miami FC.