A Josef Martinez brace, coupled with Luiz Araujo's first MLS goal and a late free-kick golazo by Ezequiel Barco, lifted Atlanta to their sixth win in seven matches, moving them into sole possession of the seventh Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot in the Eastern Conference.
The hosts took the lead inside of five minutes thanks to a brilliant individual effort by Araujo, who ignited the home crowd behind a 1-0 scoreline, his first strike since signing on deadline day from reigning Ligue 1 title-holders Lille.
Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati saw a chance to level go by the wayside in the 23rd minute when Brenner's touch in front of the net on a cross missed the target. The Brazilian forward had an even better chance before the half-hour mark after pouncing on a poor Atlanta giveaway, yet fired over Brad Guzan's goal.
The Orange & Blue would rue those missed opportunities when Atlanta doubled their margin in the 40th minute on a set-piece routine. Alan Franco's touch inside the box on an Araujo free kick went to Martinez, who headed it past Przemyslaw Tyton to double the Five Stripes' advantage.
Martinez again found net in the 55th minute to secure a brace for himself, catching Tyton flat-footed with a curling effort that increased Atlanta's margin to 3-0. Adding to the achievement, Martinez's double came in his 100th regular-season appearance, and his 85 goals in that time are the most of any player in their first 100 games in MLS history.
Still, the scoring wasn't done as Barco added the exclamation point in the 86th minute, ripping a free kick past Tyton to complete the scoring.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Atlanta showed once more that they're a team to be reckoned with as they head into their final 10 matches of the season. Martinez – who netted a pair of goals in his first game back since the international break – will certainly be a massive part of his team’s postseason push, along with Barco and Araujo. Jaap Stam opted to make six changes to his lineup from Saturday’s team that defeated Toronto FC at home, but the move backfired and they became Atlanta's latest victim.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Araujo made sure his first MLS goal was one to remember, but Barco may have one-upped him, lasering home a free kick to continue his torrid play since returning from the Olympics.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Martinez had the brace, but Araujo deserves a shout for his performance. He had a terrific goal to open the scoring and delivered the free kick that ultimately led to the first of Martinez's tallies.