After surviving a very early scare, Atlanta United continued their blistering hot home form with a strong showing at home against Los Angeles FC.
Josef Martinez headed home a 67th-minute goal that created some breathing room for Atlanta United, making the score 2-0, before a barrage of goals very late in the match resulted in a 5-0 romp.
Things didn’t look great for the Five Stripes just after the opening whistle. It looked like they would be playing with 10 men just one minute into the match when Chris McCann was initially shown a straight red card for a very aggressive challenge on Benny Feilhaber. Referee Ted Unkel took a second look on the VAR monitor and downgraded the decision to a yellow card.
After breathing a sigh of relief, Atlanta was able to bounce back and get the first goal of the game. It came in the 17th minute from Julian Gressel, who was left wide open in front of a gaping net to tap in a low cross from Miguel Almiron that somehow made it through a sea of Atlanta and LAFC legs.
There were a couple of half chances for the rest of the first half, but nothing that brought many fans to the edge of their seats. LAFC controlled more of the ball, but couldn’t any of their seven shots on target.
The second half picked up where the first left off. LAFC was controlling the ball, but not making much with it. Atlanta would hit back on the counterattack and would end up getting a second goal because of it.
Martinez added to his already impressive MLS goal scoring record in the 67th minute when he headed home a Gressel cross to make the score 2-0.
Just a week after suffering a late-game collapse in a 4-3 loss to the LA Galaxy, LAFC suffered through an other terrible late stretch, surrendering three goals from the 88th minute on.
VAR played another role in the match, when Walker Zimmerman was ruled to have taken down Almiron in the penalty area. Almiron converted the penalty to make the score 3-0.
Atlanta drew another penalty in stoppage time after rookie defender Joao Moutinho blocked a free kick with a raised arm in the penalty area, resulting in his second yellow card and another Almiron finish from the spot.
The 5-0 scoreline was competed in the final minute of action as Romario Williams smacked one more past Tyler Miller.
Next up for Atlanta is a Sunday evening showdown at home against New York City FC. Meanwhile, LAFC will head to Canada for a Friday night showdown with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Julian Gressel provided both a goal and an assist for Atlanta United as they earned yet another home win. It was Gressel’s first goal and second assist on on the season as he picks up from a strong rookie season last year.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The red card reversal early on really helped Atlanta United. Had Ted Unkel’s decision been upheld, they would have been forced to play just about the entire match down a defender and would have found it quite tough to get anything going up front.
MATCH TO FORGET
You could really pick any LAFC defender, but Joao Moutinho experienced some real rookie growing pains in this one. He was torched by Julian Gressel a couple of times on the first two goals and ended up with a red card at the end of the match for a needless handball.