Martínez and Co. move on to Quarterfinals with 4-0 win vs Herediano
Cover Photo: David Leah
By. Andrew Rodberg
Following a disappointing outing in Costa Rica last Thursday, where Atlanta suffered a Leg 1 loss to Herediano 3-1, they returned home to Georgia for Leg 2 and a chance to move on in the Concacaf Champions League Tournament. When most people see “home” they refer to Mercedes Benz Stadium but for this matchup, Atlanta head to Kennesaw, Ga to play at Fifth/Third Bank Stadium. As it stood going into the second leg, Atlanta needed a 2-0 win because of the aggregate rules.
After a first matchup where Herediano held most of the possession and completely took Martínez out of the game, the exact opposite happened during Leg 2. To be exact, Martínez scored the fastest goal in Atlanta United history at right under 1 minute. With that goal, Martínez and company set the tone early that they were not going to be manhandled like the previous match.
No more than 8 minutes later, Julian Gressel took a pass inside the box and drilled it in the corner of the net to help Atlanta jump out to the much needed 2-0 lead. The pressure didn’t stop there… Atlanta United wanted to make a point and earn their first win under new coach Frank de Boer. As HT came, the score remained 2-0 with Herediano looking like a completely different team than a week ago. Their spirits were down and they didn’t seem to have the urgency needed in order to climb their way back into the match. This was due mostly to the fact that Atlanta United held most of the possession in the first half and rarely allowed Herediano the ball on the attack.
In the 68th minute, after multiple failed goal attempts, Brek Shea found Martínez running down the middle and gave him a touch that allowed the “Lethal Venezuelan” to score yet again and push the lead to 3-0. With that goal, Atlanta put major pressure on Herediano to score an away goal in order to force penalty kicks. What looked to be a decent lead for Herediano, vanished in just under 70 minutes of game play and they were stunned. With Herediano needing a goal, they began to move their players down the field with hopes of being the numbers in their favor. Sadly for them, in doing so they became vulnerable to the high powered Atlanta United offense.
In the 83rd minute and after a goal save by Herediano, Atlanta United remained on the attack. A pass by Ezequiel Barco ultimately sealed the victory when Leandro González Pirez connected on a header that blew past the goalie and gave Atlanta United a 4-0 lead.
As the final whistle blew, it was clear that Atlanta United was the better team and deserved to move on in the tournament. They now look to a matchup with Monterrey at Mercedes Benz Stadium on March 13th. Get your tickets using the link below!
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