Martínez Is The Man: Atlanta United Defeat Colorado Rapids 1-0

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June 17, 2017 - Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron (10) looks to pass upfield during a match between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew on June 17, 2017 at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Columbus Crew FC. (Getty Images/Icon Sportswire)

COMMERCE CITY, CO (June 24, 2017) – In his first start in over a month, Josef Martínez was the man. Recovering from his injury, the forward scored the only goal of the match, as Atlanta United FC defeated the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at home.

The Rapids were playing their fourth game in 12 days with several key players injured. As a result, Rapids Manager Pablo Mastroeni started a reserve side. Eric Miller and Mike Da Fonte started in center back in front of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Dennis Castillo made a rare start at right back. Josh Gatt and Dillon Serna got starts in midfield. Caleb Calvert and Kevin Doyle started up top in a 4-4-2.

Atlanta Head Coach ‘Tata’ Martino had his team in a 4-2-3-1. Leandro González Pirez and Greg Garza led the defense. The front of the midfield was led by Héctor Villalba, Miguel Almirón, and Yamil Asad. Josef Martínez started up top for the first time since getting injured back in April.

Martínez Is The Man: Atlanta United Defeat Colorado Rapids 1-0

Atlanta United had the better of the play in the first half. They had over 75% of the ball in the opening 45 minutes but only managed 4 total shots. Colorado slowed the game down and stayed compact to prevent United’s potent offense from getting any dangerous chances.

Their best chance came in the 27th minute. Garza found some space on the wing and sent a cross in towards Martínez. The center forward got his head on the ball, but it was just wide of goal. Garza led the attack for much of the half, getting behind the defense and crossing it into the box.

The officiating crew had a less than perfect. Castillo and González banged knees as Castillo went in for a sliding tackle. Both players were ok and Castillo was given a yellow. Replays showed Castillo’s challenge to be a bit reckless. Later in the half, Gatt got a golden chance but he could not beat Alec Kann. Gatt appeared to be bring the ball down with his forearm, but nothing was called. The half ended 0-0.

United came out with urgency to start the second half. They moved the ball up field with numbers quicker and shot more when the opportunities came. Martínez had a thumping header in the 52nd minute, but it bounced off the grass and over the bar. Just minutes later Martínez and Almirón got on the break. Martínez got a shot off, but Howard saved it and Azira cleaned the play up.

The home side continued to press and it paid off in the 67th minute. Almirón got the ball moving upfield to substitute Brandon Vázquez. He created some space and passed the ball to Martínez right in front of goal. The forward danced for a bit to create space then beat Howard with a left footed shot.

Atlanta continued to pressure Colorado, preventing them from getting the attack going. The Rapids did get lucky late in the game, as Michael Azira was not called for a handball in the box. Neither side could score in the late stages and the match ended 1-0.

This is a good result for Atlanta. They created a bunch of chances and got a win, much improved off their midweek lost against struggling D.C. United.

Colorado lost both their games this week, granted this match was always going to be tough on the road against a good opponent. Mastroeni’s side has now lost seven consecutive road games. They need to get healthy and get some rest.

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