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Atlanta downs Toronto for third straight win


Atlanta United FC earned not only a victory Wednesday, but also a sense of revenge, as Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel scored goals via two Josef Martinez assists in a 2-0 decision over visiting Toronto FC.

The victory comes just over six months after Atlanta United fell to Toronto 4-1 in last year’s season finale, preventing them from winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield, which goes to the team with the best regular-season record.

Wednesday’s victory was the third consecutive shutout for Atlanta United (4-3-2, 14 points), and the first time the Five Stripes defeated Toronto FC (5-3-1, 16 points), after the four previous matches ended in three ties and last year’s season-ending defeat.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan didn’t need to stop a shot on goal for Atlanta United, recording his fourth shutout of the season and his 44th in MLS.

Toronto FC was held without a goal for the first time this season, as they were unable to string together consecutive road victories after earning a 2-0 win Saturday at Orlando City. Toronto has not won consecutive matches since winning the first three games of the season.

Atlanta United utilized a free kick early in the first half to go ahead. Midfielder Gonzalo Martinez sent his free kick on goal from just outside the penalty box, with Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono making a diving save.

Martinez pounced on the rebound to the right side of goal and sent in a centering pass that Villalba redirected on goal in the 17th minute with his left foot.

One minute after a goal was wiped away when he was ruled offside, Martinez got his timing down in the 67th minute and was able to send a feed to Gressel. The midfielder’s blast from inside the penalty area deflected off the foot of Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow and into the goal. It was Gressel’s second of the season.

In defeating Toronto, Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids in consecutive games — by a combined score of 6-0 — Atlanta United have more victories than defeats for the first time this season. It was also their fourth victory in the past five games, with all four coming via shutout.

–Field Level Media

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