Release from Atlanta United:
Atlanta United earned its first win in club history by defeating Minnesota United, 6-1, in a battle of expansion teams at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. On a cold, blustery day with a steady snowfall throughout the match, Designated Players Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron combined to score five goals with Martinez’s hat-trick leading the way. Jacob Peterson added Atlanta’s sixth goal in second-half stoppage time.
“I think everyone played really well,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “I think obviously tomorrow, everyone will talk about Miguel [Almiron] and Josef [Martinez], but I think the team had a really good performance.”
Atlanta was off to a flying start thanks to Martinez, who scored his first-ever MLS goal in the third minute after being played on by Miguel Almiron. Ten minutes later, Almiron joined the score sheet, blasting one past Minnesota goalkeeper John Alvbage. Midfielder Julian Gressel perfectly set-up Almiron, by splitting two Minnesota defenders with a pass to Almiron’s feet, who was able to turn and have an open look on goal.
“It’s important for us to get the first win,” Almiron said. “Now we’re gaining more trust in how we’re playing and to be able to work calmly this week.”
The referee ordered a brief stoppage in play to clear snow off of the playing surface in the 24th minute. Immediately after the re-start, Atlanta made it 3-0 with Martinez scoring his second goal of the match in the 27th minute. Yamil Asad played Martinez through two Minnesota defenders and the Venezuelan Designated Player calmly beat Alvbage again.
Minnesota got on the board in the 30th minute with Kevin Molino converting a penalty kick. The referee awarded Minnesota the opportunity after Jeff Larentowicz was ruled to have fouled Molino inside of the 18-yard box. Molino rolled one to the right of Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann.
After halftime, Atlanta added another goal in the 52nd minute with Almiron scoring his second stunner of the day. Toward the top of the 18, Almiron perfectly volleyed one off his left foot, and up-and-over a diving Alvbage, into the right side of the goal to pad Atlanta’s lead. Martinez then finished his hat-trick, after Atlanta (Hector Villalba) played another through ball past Minnesota defenders. Martinez latched onto the end of it and dribbled around an oncoming Alvbage before easily rolling one in.
Atlanta finished the night with Jacob Peterson scoring his 23rd career goal in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. Greg Garza crossed one into the middle of the box, where Peterson was stationed perfectly. The MLS veteran rose above everyone to head home the sixth and final goal.
“We would have liked to have had the first win in the first game,” Martino said. “But we’re happy to get it tonight and we’re happy with the first win as a team.”