Bobby Dodd Stadium -- sold out for the second Atlanta United home match in a row -- exploded on Saturday night with a brutal clean sheet vs. the visiting Chicago Fire. The slaughter started just four minutes into the proceedings. That's when the expansion side took the early lead, after a Julian Gressel ball across the box deflected off Chicago defender Brandon Vincent, resulting in an own goal.

Just seven minutes later, another Chicago Fire defender would add to the visitors' woe. Johan Kappelhof drew a red after taking down Atlanta's Josef Martinez as the latter tried to go 1v1 with the Fire's keeper; the Fire went down to 10 men.

The second half proved equally painful for the visitors. At the 60th minute, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez combined for the latter to put the home side up 2-0. Then, seven minutes later, Hector Villalba made it three for Atlanta. And at 82', goal-scoring machine Martinez added insult to injury, finishing an assist from Yamil Asad.


Three Things

  1. MARTINEZ -- THAT'S ALL: Sure, we're only three weeks into the 2017 MLS season, but it may not be too early to tip Josef Martinez for the Golden Boot race. He's now scored a total of five times in his first three matches.
  2. GRESSEL IS GREAT: A lot of the Atlanta hype has (rightfully) centered on the team's Latin-Americans, but midfielder Julian Gressel deserves a big shout-out, too. He's now started every match for Atlanta -- ahead of established MLS vets -- and proved instrumental in opening the scoring tonight (even if it really was an own goal). Not bad for a rookie MLS SuperDraft pick.
  3. FIRE NOT EXTINGUISHED -- YET: It's not quite yet time to panic over Chicago's defense, which, sure, proved a problem last year. To try to find a silver lining, remember that they drew their previous two matches. They'll just have to keep some kind of shape back there going forward.

Next Up

  • ATL: Friday, March 31 – at Seattle (10 pm ET | FS 1 in US, MLS LIVE in Canada)
  • CHI: Saturday, April 1 – vs. Montreal (3 pm ET | CTV, TVAS, TSN5 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US)