Atlanta United is starting to heat up, and the rest of Major League Soccer had better take notice.
Reigning Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez notched a pair of goals while Ezequiel Barco had a hand in all three goals to lead Atlanta United to a 3-0 road win against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night.
Injury-hit Sporting KC limped into Sunday’s clash missing several key starters, but still gave Atlanta United a tough fight through 39 minutes, before Barco broke through with a shot off the post. The rebound fell to Martinez, who quickly slotted a shot past Tim Melia before Melia crashed into him.
Just two minutes after halftime, it was Barco again, only this time he did the work himself, blasting a shot from the top of the penalty area to make it 2-0 Atlanta.
Playing without injured regulars Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza, and with Ilie Sanchez on the bench, Sporting KC struggled to fight back into the match on a night when it managed just three shots on goal.
Atlanta United put the match out of reach in the 78th minute when Barco fed Martinez, who dribbled past Seth Sinovic before curling a right-footed shot from 16 yards out.
The victory, Atlanta United’s second straight, moves the reigning MLS Cup champions into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Sporting KC’s loss extends its winless slide to five matches.
Atlanta United returns to action on Wednesday at home against Toronto FC, while Sporting KC travels to D.C. United on Sunday.