Two teams on opposite ends of the MLS table met in Commerce City, Colorado on Saturday afternoon in a match that went the way basically everyone expected. Atlanta United posted three first half goals - two by Miguel Almiron - to defeat second-from-last side Colorado Rapids 3-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. With the victory, Atlanta is now two points clear of the New York Red Bulls for the Supporters’ Shield with the two sides even in games played right now; RBNY hosts D.C. United on Sunday.
Atlanta didn’t wait until the quarter hour mark to set the tone of the match early on. In the 10th minute, Julian Gressel fed a ball across to Almiron, who hesitated just long enough to give himself time to hammer one into the top corner to put Atlanta up first. Goal number 2 came in the 18th, as Josef Martinez put one on a platter to a streaking Almiron, who slipped it past Tim Howard to give himself a brace on the day.
Doubles his tally & doubles the lead— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 15, 2018
Miggy is having himself a day pic.twitter.com/ESP13p5gbl
The Five Stripes weren’t done in the first half. Almiron delivered a delicious ball through to Gressel, with the German spotting Tito Villalba in front for the finish.
There were no goals to speak of for Atlanta in the second half, but they didn’t need one as the match was rather well in hand through 45 minutes. It was a perfect response for a group that had to sit with a tough loss at D.C. United nearly two weeks ago, and while it’s against a poor Rapids squad, it means three important points for a team looking to nail down playoff positioning.
Next stop for the Five Stripes is a match at the last-place San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night. Kickoff for that one is set for 11 p.m. ET at Avaya Stadium in California.