Josef Martinez has kicked his way into the MLSrecord books…
The 26-year-old Venezuelan professional footballer, a striker for Atlanta United FC, scored for the 11th straight match, a Major League Soccer record, and his team cruised to a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday night at Portland’s Providence Park.
The win was Atlanta’s seventh in the past eight games across all competitions, and it vaulted them into first place in the MLS Eastern Conference. With goal differential as the tiebreaker, Atlanta United (14-9-3) took over first place from the Philadelphia Union, though both teams are on 45 points.
The Timbers (11-10-4) missed a chance to move up to fourth place in the Western Conference. The loss kept them in seventh place with the third tiebreaker advantage over FC Dallas, which is total goals scored.
Portland lost for just the second time in 10 league matches in a rematch of the two teams that played for the MLS Cuplast December, won by Atlanta. The Timbers have played three games of a 10-game homestead.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez scored off a rebound of a blocked shot from Martinez in the 14th minute, and Atlanta took a 1-0 lead into halftime despite numerous chances for the Timbers.
The Timbers couldn’t convert an on-target header from Jeremy Ebobisse, saved by Brad Guzan in the 42nd minute, and had an apparent goal nullified by an offside call.
Atlanta United was close to a 2-0 lead in extra time of the first half, but Steve Clark stopped Ezequiel Barco‘s breakaway shot. They took the 2-0 lead 45 seconds into the second half when Martinez chipped an open shot past Clark after a pinpoint assist from Julian Gressel.
Martinez raised his season goal total to 21.
Portland defenderJulio Cascante had a header miraculously saved by Guzan, who had five saves, in the 64th minute.