Big Mo, as in momentum, was in Atlanta Mercedes-Benz Stadium again Wednesday night for the hometown Atlanta United. A three-goal performance by Josef Martinez helped the Five Stripes wrap up their second clean sheet of the week defeating the New England Revolution 7-0.
Martinez picked right up where he left off Sunday. Against Dallas, Martinez scored 27 seconds into the second half. It took 46 seconds longer on Wednesday. For the second consecutive game, Miguel Almiron’s pass found the Venezuelan striker on a dead run to the goal. Only this time Martinez needed to create a better angle before burying the ball in the back of the net.
“You don’t want to give up an early goal against a team like this at home with the crowd behind them,” said Revolution defender Andrew Farrell. “It got them going.”
New England didn’t help itself at all. In addition to allowing the early goal, the Revolution lost midfielder Xavier Kouassi to a red card for stepping on the ankle of Yamil Asad and then handed United back-to-back free penalty kicks on handballs in the box.
Kouassi received the red card after further examination of the play on the newly implemented video automatic review (VAR) system. Neither head coach thought much of the new video system.
Up a man, United continued attacking. Greg Garza’s shot from the left side struck the arm of midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson’s arm resulting in a penalty kick for Atlanta. Martinez made quick work slotting home Atlanta’s second of many goals on the night.
Eight minutes later, Atlanta United was back on the attack and raining shots at Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper. Almiron made a fantastic move to get around Farrell before delivering a perfect ball to Martinez at the edge of the box. Atlanta’s leading scorer hit the ball solidly that was deflected away from the goal by the hand of New England defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea. Another penalty kick for Martinez, another goal for Atlanta United, and another player lost to New England.
Anton Walkes added a fourth goal in stoppage time. “I just saw an opening at the back post and I thought if I can get in behind the goal — if he (Almiron) could just put the guy (Cropper) off — maybe I could get a rebound,” said Walkes. There was no need for a rebound, the lob from Garza sailed over the head of Almiron and Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez right to Walkes by the right post. Cropper made it over to challenge the shot but Walkes snuck it under the goalkeeper’s right arm.
The 4-0 lead, a 2-man advantage for the home team, and a raucous sellout crowd were a recipe for an ugly result. Atlanta United added three more goals including a tap-in by Hector Villalba 20 seconds before the 90th minute.
Atlanta celebrated its eighth consecutive win at home and moved to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus sits in the fourth spot with one point and one more win than the Five Stripes. With three of their next five matches at AMB, Atlanta United could overtake the fourth spot and challenge Chicago for the third spot.
Saturday’s match against Orlando City will be the first with the upper level open for fans. Ticket sales were stellar. Atlanta United will play before the largest crowd ever to watch a Major League Soccer game.
All photos by Jason McDonald, CORE360 Sports