They say third time’s the charm, but the third try for Orlando City to beat Atlanta United went begging as Josef Martinez won the game with his 28th goal of the season, breaking the MLS single season record for goals in a season and breaking the hearts of Lions fans.
Martinez tucked away the eventual game-winning goal in the 74th minute when he got into the 18 yard box and calmly sent Jonathan Spector flying, chipping the ball over Joe Bendik‘s outstretched hand and in.
“When you look at the level of the performance, I think it wasn’t good enough,” Head Coach James O’Connor said after the game. “We need to be honest with ourselves. Look, we can point and we can say we had some key players missing, but again, for me they’re excuses. I think for where we want to get to and where we’re going to get to, we need levels of performance that are higher. That’s something that we definitely need to get more.”
The Lions had a good start to the game, creating scoring chances within the first few minutes, but it was Atlanta to strike first. After winning a free kick, Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco sent in a free kick towards goal. Bendik managed to knock it down, but right into the path of Leandro González Pirez for an easy tap-in and a 1-0 lead for the away team.
Orlando was able to strike back just before halftime, scoring only their second goal against Atlanta this season in three games. Off a great passage of play, Lions debutant Carlos Ascues sent a ball over for Chris Mueller on the right wing. The rookie played a ball in for Will Johnson, who backheeled it into the path of Scott Sutter, who struck a knuckleball into the back of the net, leveling the match at 1-1.
That scoreline held until the 74th minute, when Martinez broke the deadlock with his record breaking goal and Atlanta was able to hold on to that scoreline to sweep the season series against the Lions.
“It’s always tough and it has been, so far it’s been a bit brutal if I’m honest,” Defender Scott Sutter said after the match. “I said this a couple of weeks ago the amount that we invest into the games and the energy, the results just aren’t coming. I think we’re really, really trying, but today I don’t think it was good enough. On their second goal it was a counter attack from them, there’s still five of our guys in there. Everybody is in their half. It’s just not good enough.”
21′ Leandro González Pirez
39′ Scott Sutter (Will Johnson, Chris Mueller)
74′ Josef Martínez (Julian Gressel)
Home versus Philadelphia Union on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Bendik; Sutter, Spector (c), O’Neill, PC; Rosell, Ascues (67′), Mueller, Johnson (87′), Colman (61′); Dwyer.
Orlando Bench: Edwards; Tarek, Rocha, Powers, Da Silva (61′), Villarreal (87′), Pinho (67′)
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