Josef Martinez is finding his groove at the right time of the MLS season for Atlanta United and the Venezuelan star continued that trend on Wednesday by playing the hero for the Five Stripes.
Martinez scored the winning goal as Atlanta United defeated Inter Miami 2-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, sitting three points clear in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Despite falling down in the first half after Gonzalo Higuain propelled visiting Miami in front, the Five Stripes hit back twice in the second-half. Luiz Araujo continued his impressive first season in MLS by equalizing in the 59th minute before Martinez scored his fifth goal in the past six matches. Atlanta United next hosts Toronto FC while Inter Miami faces New York City FC at home.
The New York Red Bulls saw their eight-match unbeaten run snapped at Audi Field, losing 1-0 to rivals D.C. United. Kevin Paredes scored his third league goal of the season, helping the Black and Red leapfrog the Red Bulls into seventh place with two weeks to play. Bill Hamid made five saves to preserve the clean sheet for Hernan Losada’s squad.
The New England Revolution set a new MLS regular season record by claiming their 73rd point in a 1-0 triumph over the Colorado Rapids. Tajon Buchanan’s 75th minute finish was all Bruce Arena’s side needed to claim a 22nd victory of the season. Matt Turner was stellar for the Revs, making four saves to earn the clean sheet and help New England extend its unbeaten run to 10 matches.
Nashville SC was staring a humiliating defeat in the face at halftime at TQL Stadium, but flexed their muscles in the second-half against an eliminated FC Cincinnati squad. C.J. Sapong scored twice for Gary Smith’s side while Randall Leal also finished the night with two goals to his name. Nashville SC took advantage of missed opportunities by the Philadelphia Union and Orlando City to move back into second place in the Eastern Conference.
Valentin Castellanos continued his strong campaign for New York City FC, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire. Castellanos now has 16 goals on the season for Ronny Deila’s side, scoring from the penalty spot as NYCFC moved to third place in the East table. Sean Johnson played his part in the victory, contributing five saves in goal for the hosts at Yankee Stadium.
Real Salt Lake leaped into the top-seven for now with a 2-1 comeback win over FC Dallas. Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak scored 11 minutes apart for Pablo Mastroeni’s side, moving them to sixth place with three matches to play. Matt Hedges opened the scoring for the hosts in the 20th minute, but FC Dallas could only watch as RSL fought back and scored a stellar pair of second-half goals.
Here is a rundown of Wednesday’s busy MLS schedule:
Revolution 1, Rapids 0
(Tajon Buchanan 75′)
Atlanta United 2, Inter Miami 1
(Luiz Araujo 59′, Josef Martinez 74′) – (Gonzalo Higuain 32′)
Crew 3, Orlando City 2
(Miguel Berry 20′, Derrick Etienne 31′, Lucas Zelarayan 61′) – (Daryl Dike 52′, Robin Jansson 90+2′)
D.C. United 1, Red Bulls 0
(Kevin Paredes 9′)
FC Cincinnati 3, Nashville SC 6
(Dave Romney own goal 6′, Brenner 17′, Brandon Vazquez 32′) – (Walker Zimmerman 28′, Randall Leal 45+2′, 76′ C.J. Sapong 71′, 90+2′, Ake Loba 80′)
NYCFC 1, Fire 0
(Valentin Castellanos 51′)
Toronto FC 2, Union 2
(Jozy Altidore 67′, Jack Elliott own goal 70′) – (Alejandro Bedoya 1′, Sergio Santos 78′)
FC Dallas 1, Real Salt Lake 2
(Matt Hedges 20′) – (Damir Kreilach 80′, Albert Rusnak 90+1′)
Sporting KC 2, Galaxy 0
(Johnny Russell 40′,82′)
Timbers 1, Earthquakes 0
(Diego Chara 34′)
Whitecaps 1, Minnesota United 0
(Michael Boxall 45′ OG)
LAFC 3, Sounders 0
(Brian Rodriguez 21′, Latif Blessing 45+1, Cristian Arango 51′)