Atlanta United Top New England 3-1
Gressel Scores Goal and Adds Two Assists
Atlanta, GA – With the roof open, Atlanta closed out the regular season with a resounding win Sunday evening at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The victory secured the number two seed for United in the Eastern Conference, ensuring at least a home match in the first round and in the second round should they advance.
United got on the board early. In the 3rd minute, Darlington Nagbe notched his second goal of the season. He was setup with beautiful pass from Julian Gressel. Both Gressel and Josef Martinez were credited with an assist.
But the lead did not last long. New England’s Cristian Penilla scored the equalizer in the 8th minute. He converted on a mistake made by the United defender in midfield. It was his 6th goal of the season.
Early in the second half, United gained control of the match. Josef Martinez scored his team leading 27th goal of the season in the 49th minute. Gressel played another brilliant pass to earn his second assist of the match.
Then in the 57th minute, Gressel decided to get in on the scoring action. He hammered home a kick to notch his 6th goal of the season.
From that point on, the United defense shut down New England. Statistically, the match was even. United held a slight edge in time of possession 51% to 49%. Total shots were 19-15 in favor of United.
Gressel earned Man of the Match honors. However, the day belonged to Michael Parkhurst. Parkhurst announced earlier in the week that this would be his last season. He has been captain of the United team for the past three years, helping lead it to three playoff appearances and one MLS championship. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he entered for the final time in the 78th minute. After the game, the team honored Parkhurst with a tribute ceremony. Fittingly, he ended his career against the MLS team that he originally played for.
Atlanta next plays New England again on October 19th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the first round of the MLS playoffs.
Notes…With his goal, Gressel finished second on the team in goals scored…Gressel’s two assists gave him 12 on the season, which led the team…Josef Martinez’s two assists on Sunday doubled his season output in that category…Carlos Vela broke the single season goals scored record held by Josef Martinez…Pity Martinez did not play in Sunday’s match…attendance was 44,617.