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Atlanta United carry shutout streak to Vancouver

(Image:Twitter/@ATLUTD)

Atlanta United will look to build on Pity Martinez’s first MLS goal and possibly make league history when they put their four-game shutout victory streak on the line Wednesday night against the host Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.

After arriving in January from Argentine giants River Plate for a reported $17 million transfer fee, Martinez and Atlanta (5-3-2, 17 points) both struggled out of the gate in defense of the team’s 2018 MLS Cup title.

But Martinez, who departed Argentina after winning the 2018 South American Footballer of the Year award, has earned four consecutive starts, all Atlanta shutout wins. His first MLS goal last Sunday proved the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Orlando City.

“I’m happy that the team won first, but I think the goal is good for my confidence,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “I knew the goal was going to come at some point, and luckily it was able to come today, and hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”

Atlanta became the ninth team in MLS history to win four consecutive games without allowing a goal. No team has ever done it in five straight, though United would appear to have a shot facing a Whitecaps side that has scored a Western Conference-low 11 goals.

Vancouver (3-5-3, 12 points) needed only one tally to win its second in a row last Friday, 1-0 over visiting Cascadia Cup rival Portland Timbers.

While Fredy Montero’s early goal during a promising start decided the match, coach Marc Dos Santos ended the night more impressed by his club’s resolute defending. Portland outshot Vancouver 27-12, but the visitors’ total included seven blocked shots and only five on target.

“They’re a good team, and it’s normal when you play good teams that they come at you,” Dos Santos said. “But we were able to be solid. We were able to show a lot of commitment between everybody, and in transition we had some plays that were exciting and could’ve finished with a goal.”

Having exerted that defensive energy, the Whitecaps should have an advantage over Atlanta United in terms of recovery, remaining at home and also enjoying two extra days between matches.

–Field Level Media

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