When push came to shove, the old new kid on the block showed the newest kid on the block just how it was done.
Last year’s MLS newcomers and darlings, Atlanta United FC, got goals from Julian Gressel, Josef Martinez, two penalties from Miguel Almiron and a late goal from Romario Williams, to pull away from Los Angeles Football Club, 5-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It was the second consecutive loss for the Black and Gold and it also marked nine straight goals surrendered by LAFC after taking a 3-0 lead at LA Galaxy last weekend.
The tone of the game started rough as Chris McCann was initially shown a red card, but the video-assisted referee showed the challenge to be only yellow-worthy.
Atlanta struck first when Gressel converted on a missed attempt from Martinez in the 17th minute to put United up 1-0. Almiron started the play with a nice cross across the face of the goal. Martinez’s miss put Tyler Miller out of position and left one side of goal open for Gressel to score his first goal of the season.
Julian Gressel opens the scoring for #ATLUTD! Wide open at the back post for a simple finish from Almiron's cross. Poor defending by #LAFC, too focused on Martinez's run. 1-0. #ATLvLAFC #MLS pic.twitter.com/e2jnehvUtU— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 7, 2018
LAFC had its best shot at goal in the 23rd minute as Diego Rossi broke free on a pass from Mark-Anthony Kaye, but Rossi was turned around at the last second by Miles Robinson – who was making his first MLS start -- and forced to hold his run. Atlanta cleared the ball and LAFC failed to make anything happen on the subsequent corner kick.
LAFC came out swinging in the second half, pushing the attack forward – something they failed to do in the first 25 minutes of the game.
The Black and Gold dominated possession for first six minutes of the half but were unable to convert anything on offense.
Atlanta made them pay with their second goal of the game in the 67th minute when Gressel found Martinez wide open in front of the goal. Martinez didn’t miss this attempt as it drilled it into the wide open net to put Atlanta up 2-0.
Josef Martinez doubles the lead for #ATLUTD! He heads in the great cross by Gressel, who now has 1 goal + 1 assist. #LAFC had been controlling possession, but were caught in transition. #ATLvLAFC #MLS pic.twitter.com/LF14tAYDVC— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 7, 2018
The penalty in the 87th minute came after a video review. While Tyler Miller was able to jump to the right direction, Almiron placed his shot just out of Miller’s reach.
The second penalty came on a called handball on Joao Moutinho inside the area on a free kick. Almiron connected on his second to give him a brace for the game, and Moutinho picked up his second yellow card to earn the ejection.
Now, LAFC switches its focus back to conference play as they travel to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 7 pm on Friday, April 13.
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