Last Saturday, Atlanta United defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in its pursuit for the first seed in the Eastern Conference and went up to the second place, clinching a first-round home playoff game. However, Atlanta United saw its star striker and record-setter Josef Martinez suffer a freak injury that forced him to leave the game early.
Atlanta United took the lead in opening minutes of the match through a Justin Meram goal that took a big deflection of a San Jose defender that took the opposition goalkeeper out of the equation.
In the 27th minute, Atlanta conceded an own goal off of Brad Guzan’s attempted save from a Christian Espinoza shot/pass that leveled the match.
The game took a wild turn after Espinoza stamped on Atlanta defender Franco Escobar and earned his second yellow of the match, resulting in a send-off for the San Jose attacker and leaving the Quakes with only ten men for the majority of the match.
Atlanta United nearly got another goal through midfielder Emerson Hyndman right before halftime, but he sent it wide.
During the second half, Atlanta ramped up the pressure and forced San Jose keeper Daniel Vega into making a multitude of saves.
Atlanta midfielders Hyndman and Darlington Nagbe took the match for themselves in the 90th minute. Nagbe picked up the ball in the opposition midfield and made an excellent run through the middle of the field towards the opposition goal, pulling in a San Jose defender which left Hyndman wide open for a shot. He put it away and Atlanta took the lead back.
Atlanta would score again just a minute later off of a well-worked goal that was coolly put into the net for Atlanta’s third goal of the game.
Despite Atlanta coming back to take all three points in dramatic fashion, Atlanta United fans had one person on their mind: Josef Martinez. The striker has 26 goals in all competitions this season and was in the middle of a record-setting scoring streak before he was injured. Per the AJC, Martinez is on crutched and is still feeling the impact of the incident in his knee and ankle, but there wasn’t any ligament damage. Josef will most likely miss a few games, but the team will be hoping that he’ll be back for the playoffs.
Photo Credits: Jason Getz – USA Today Sports
Kyle Soto is a volunteer at The Wolf. Follow him on Twitter @kyledsoto for more soccer content.