Written by Kevin Torres•
MLS Play Offs: Champions Atlanta Steer Past Philadelphia
Atlanta United 2 Philadelphia Union 0
Frank De Boer and current champions Atlanta continued their quest for back-to-back titles with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Amongst the favourites for the title in our soccer odds before the season kicked off, Atlanta now find themselves in another Play Off semi-final, despite dropping from first to second in the Eastern Conference this regular season.
Atlanta made the brighter start of the two sides, weaving together some nice flicks and moves in the attacking third early on. One particular play saw Julian Gressel and Pity Martinez play out a nice ‘1-2’ together, with Gressel’s deft chip just doing enough to loop over Andre Blake and scrape in under the crossbar on minute 10.
Legendary goalkeeper Brad Guzan kept a record fourteen shutouts during the regular season, but was made to work especially hard at certain points in the game against Union. Brendan Aaronson had Philadelphia’s best chance of the game, with all of Guzan’s experience coming to the fold as he managed to somehow keep the striker out. After two games, Atlanta remain the only side in the Play Offs with a 100% clean sheet record and that is massively down to Guzan’s exploits.
Whilst this might not be the smoothest season in Atlanta’s history, one person you can always rely on to be a danger is Josef Martinez, with the Colombian currently sitting at 86 goals from 97 Atlanta games. And sure enough, Martinez would add to that in this match. Running onto a lofted pass from Gressel in the 80th minute, the Colombian smashed home a pure striker’s finish in the roof of the net and effectively killed the game off there and then.
Atlanta were +800 in the leading soccer markets coming into this year’s Play Offs, and the current champions have seen their odds smashed down to +400 following their displays so far. They face Toronto in this year’s Eastern Final on October 30th.