ATLANTA — Atlanta United defeated Columbus Crew SC 3-1 Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 44,922 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The club’s three Designated Players, Miguel Almiròn, Josef Martinez and Tito Villalba each tallied a goal as Atlanta ran its home winning streak to three consecutive matches.
“I think Columbus played very well in the opening minutes and also the closing minutes of the first half, but in between the two goals I think you saw a strong Atlanta team,” head coach Tata Martino said. “I thought we played well in between those two goals. I think it’s important for us to understand in what moments when we have to press and when we have to fall back.”
Villalba put Atlanta on the board in the 16th minute with the assist from Yamil Asad. Asad started the play by forcing a turnover deep in Columbus’ end before playing Villalba on toward net. In alone, Villalba beat Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen with a shot to the far post. For Asad, it was his eighth assist of the year, tying Toronto FC’s Victor Vazquez for the league lead.
Columbus equalized 10 minutes later from Federico Higuain. Right back Harrison Afful crossed a ball that Ola Kamara played down for Higuain. The veteran attacking midfielder was able to poke it past a diving Alec Kann.
Almiròn gave Atlanta the lead in the 67th minute. The play started with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez making a sliding tackle to dispossess a Columbus attacker. After gaining possession, Pirez sent a pass for Almiròn near midfield, who then made a dashing run toward the Columbus goal. In between two defenders, Almiròn created just enough space to get a shot away, ultimately rolling one to the far post, past an outstretched Steffen.
Martinez subbed on in the 63rd minute and had his presence felt immediately. After returning to the lineup a week ago, Martinez scored for the second straight game, putting the game away with a rocket in the 88th minute. Kevin Kratz created a turnover near the edge of the Columbus box before feeding to Martinez. The Venezuelan then rifled one right past Steffen and into the top of the net.
Atlanta United (6-6-3, 21 points) returns to MLS action on Wednesday, June 21 against D.C. United. Kickoff from RFK Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South.