Week 11 of the 2019 MLS season opened on Wednesday with a bang as the Eastern Conference took center stage.
The defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta United earned a precious 2-0 win over 2017 champs Toronto FC, that saw Josef Martinez earn tallies in the assist column rather than just in the goals column.
Elsewhere in the East, the New York Red Bulls allowed a pair of unanswered second-half goals in a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact and the Columbus Crew took down the L.A. Galaxy 3-1 in a match that saw both Gyasi Zardes and Hector Jimenez score a goal each against their former club.
The Chicago Fire routed the struggling New England Revolution 5-0 Wednesday night with three of the five goals scored in the final 15 minutes.
Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s action:
Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 0 – FINAL
(Villalba 16′, Gressel 67′)
The defending MLS Cup champions are starting to get their groove back after notching their third-straight win and clean sheet in their 2-0 win over Toronto FC.
Reigning Golden Boot award winner Josef Martinez took the spotlight in Wednesday night’s win in unusual fashion, tallying a pair of key assists on goals by Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel.
Martinez took in a rebound off of a free kick by Pity Martinez that was initially saved at the post by Alex Bono in the 16th minute. Martinez took the ball wide and drilled it across to the net, finding Villalba at the right place at the right time for the opening goal of the match.
Martinez then set up Gressel for Atlanta’s insurance goal in the 67th minute, collecting the ball at the top of the box off of a pass from Villalba, and then found Gressel wide right, who took a step inside and finished at the near post.
The assists marked the ninth and 10th of Martinez’s MLS career and the win was Atlanta’s first over Toronto in club history.
Crew 3, L.A. Galaxy 1 – FINAL
(Zardes 27′, Higuain 53′, Jimenez 66′) – (Steres 87′)
Gyasi Zardes and Hector Jimenez each scored a goal against their former club in Columbus’ 3-1 win over the L.A. Galaxy Wednesday night.
Zardes ended a six-game drought when he scored the opening goal of the match in the 27th minute, taking in a cross from a wide-open Robinho and guiding it into the back of the net past keeper David Bingham. His goal gave the Crew their first lead in 566 minutes, dating back to their 1-0 win over New England early last month.
Federico Higuain doubled the Crew’s lead in the second half, blasting a shot to the far post past Bingham in the 53rd minute, and Jimenez gave Columbus a dominating 3-0 lead in the 66th minute, taking advantage of a loose ball that he originally passed to Zardes just in front of the six-yard box that he recovered and fired into the back of the net.
Daniel Steres helped the Galaxy prevent getting shut out in the 87th minute, scoring at the far post off of a corner kick for L.A.
Fire 5, Revolution 0 – FINAL
(Nikolic 28′, 40′, Bronico 78′, Gaitain 85′, Frankowski 89′)
Nemanja Nikolic notched his first brace of the season and the Chicago Fire scored three goals in the final 15 minutes as they ended a three-game winless streak in a 5-0 blowout of the struggling New England Revolution Wednesday night.
Nikolic could’ve had a hat trick or better if he was able to finish on a few earlier chances in the first half.
But the demolition came in the final 15 minutes of the match as Brandt Bronico, Nicolas Gaitian, and Przemyslaw Frankowski each scored their first goals of the season.
On the other side, the struggles are getting real and worse for the Revolution. New England is now winless in their last four matches and has lost by five goals in consecutive matches. They’ve conceded 18 goals in their last four matches and the 15 goals allowed in the last three are the most in MLS history for a three-game span.
The Revs are on pace to concede 85 goals this season, a total that would easily beat Orlando City’s 74 goals conceded record set last season.
Red Bulls 1, Impact 2 – FINAL
(Long 36′) – (Diallo 64′, Urruti 79′ PK)
Aaron Long gave the Red Bulls the first half 1-0 lead, however, the Montreal Impact scored a pair of goals in the second half to defeat the Red Bulls at home Wednesday night.
Long opened the scoring in the 36th minute, heading in a free kick by Marc Rzatkowski to put the Red Bulls up 1-0. They nearly took a 2-0 lead shortly after Long’s goal as Tom Barlow almost netted what would’ve been his first MLS goal, but Impact keeper Evan Bush saved the point-blank attempt.
The Impact pulled even in the 64th minute as Zakaria Diallo headed in a pass off of a pass by Maxi Urruti on a set-piece play similar to Long’s opening goal for the Red Bulls.
Montreal went ahead in the 79th minute as Urruti scored on a penalty kick. Long pushed Anthony Jackson-Hamel to the ground inside the 18, which resulted in the penalty for Urruti.
Shortly after Urruti’s penalty kick late in the second half, Long injured himself defending Urruti’s attempt at a brace, forcing the Red Bulls to play the last quarter-hour with just 10 men.
The win for Montreal marks their first regular-season win in 10 attempts at Red Bull Arena.