ATLANTA — Atlanta United defeated Chicago Fire, 4-0, on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 45,922 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Atlanta again picked up an early goal courtesy of Chicago’s Brandon Vincent who inadvertently re-directed Julian Gressel’s attempt into the back of the net in the fourth minute. In the second half, Josef Martinez scored two goals to add to his league-leading tally of five, while Tito Villalba added his first-career goal for Atlanta United.
“For the stretch in the second half we played really well,” head coach Tata Martino said. “We didn’t put the score at risk and we were able to manage the game better today than we were in the past. We had a good performance.”
Atlanta’s dominant day in possession started right from the opening kick. In the fourth minute, Villalba perfectly threaded a pass through the middle of the box to Gressel, who’s attempt deflected off Vincent and into the back of the net. Then in the 11th minute, Johan Kappelhoff took down Martinez, who was streaking in behind all-alone. Kappelhoff was red-carded on the play. Atlanta took control from there, leading 1-0 at halftime and securing an 83-17 advantage in possession at the break.
Up a man, Atlanta’s clinical passing attack took over in the second half. Completing a league-high 92.5 percent of its passes, Atlanta finally broke through in the 60th minute with Martinez, the reigning MLS Player of the Week, taking a pass from Miguel Almiron, who perfectly threaded a 20-yard pass to play Martinez through.
Villalba added his first Atlanta goal just seven minutes later. Left back Greg Garza’s attempted cross in the box was deflected inside of the penalty area. Villalba pounced on the loose ball and buried one into the right corner with his left foot.
Finally, it was Martinez finishing off a brace in fine fashion in the 82nd minute. After getting played in by Yamil Asad, Martinez dribbled around a fast-charging Jorge Bava, and niftily passed one into an open net, despite doing so from a difficult angle near the end line.
“The support has been just amazing we’re very fortunate that we’ve got this atmosphere to play in front of, we don’t want to take it for granted,” Parkhurst said. “We want to make this a real fortress and a place where teams dread to come to play.”