Atlanta United routs LA Galaxy, Martinez scores in ninth straight

Josef Martinez reacts after scoring on a penalty kick against the visiting LA Galaxy ensuring the United’s 3-0 victory. (PHOTO: ESPN)

ATLANTA – Josef Martinez scored a goal in his ninth consecutive appearance as Atlanta United earned a 3-0 victory on Saturday over the visiting LA Galaxy to move into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference in front of a record crowd of 72,548.

The Galaxy conceded two own-goals in the first half, the fourth time this season an MLS team has given up a pair of own-goals in a game, and just the eighth time it has happened in league history.

Martinez delivered from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute, after Emerson Hyndman was fouled in the penalty area on a call that was confirmed on video replay. In scoring his 18th of the season, Martinez tied the record for consecutive games with a goal that he already shared with Diego Valeri.

Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan made four saves in his MLS-leading 11th clean sheet of the season.

After starting the season 0-2-2, the defending champions have ascended into a first-place tie with the Philadelphia Union, who face D.C. United on Sunday. Atlanta United improved to 9-1-3 at home.

The Galaxy created early chances but did not have a finishing touch while playing without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who missed the game because of yellow-card accumulation. Los Angeles was also without defender Diego Polenta and midfielder Efrain Alvarez after both received red cards last Saturday against the Portland Timbers.

Atlanta United’s attack in the first half forced the Galaxy into a pair of major mistakes. In the 23rd minute, a centering pass on the right side from midfielder Pity Martinez was deflected past Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham by defender Dave Romney.

Atlanta flipped the scene in the 43rd minute when midfielder Justin Meram delivered a centering pass from the left side that was redirected into the Galaxy goal by defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, who also conceded the penalty kick in the second half.

The Galaxy have now lost three of their past four games, with the only victory in that stretch coming July 19, when they defeated first-place LAFC 3-2.

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