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Atlanta, Ga- Atlanta United (19-5-6, 63 points) completes the trifecta in the third game of nine nights to earn them nine points in that span on Saturday night.
United defeated Real Salt Lake (13-11-6, 45 points) 2-0 at home. The match included the debut of 16-year old George Bella who started and played until he was substituted in the 73rd minute. “I was kind of jittery, kind of shaking. Once I touch the ball, I was like ok, this is what I do,” said Bello.
Atlanta controlled the pace from start, allowing Real Lake only one attempt through the first half. They missed on a couple of opportunities in the beginning of the match that possibly could have blew the game wide open.
Julian Gressel put Atlanta up 1-0 (3) on a goal 18-yards out that curved right past goal keeper Nick Rimando in the 37th minute. Miguel Almiron assisted on the score.
Atlanta struck again in the 67th minute when Josef Martinez sent a backwards pass off his head to Tito Villalba who took it and shot a dart that went past Rimando and hit the goal post which bounced back into Rimando back into the net.
The United will travel to face the New York Red Bulls on September 30th.
Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 0
Shots: 14-8 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 8-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 5-3 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 9-9
Saves: 6-3 Real Salt Lake
Clearances: 19-11 Real Salt Lake
Offside: 7-3 Real Salt Lake
Possession: 54-46 Real Salt Lake
Passing Accuracy: 88-84 Real Salt Lake
ATL – Julian Gressel (Miguel Almirón) 37’ [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Tito Villalba (Julian Gressel) 61’ [HIGHLIGHT]
RSL – Sunny (yellow) 43’
ATLANTA UNITED STARTING LINEUP
Brad Guzan; Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (Miles Robinson – 88’), Jeff Larentowicz ©, Franco Escobar; George Bello (Jose Hernandez – 73’), Eric Remedi, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel; Tito Villalba (Ezequiel Barco – 81’), Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez.
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Kevin Kratz, Andrew Carleton, Romario Williams.
REAL SALT LAKE STARTING LINEUP
Nick Rimando; Marcelo Silva, Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon (Sebastian Saucedo – 77’), Aaron Herrera; Sunny, Kyle Beckerman ©, Joao Plata; Damir Kreilach, Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino.
Substitutes not used: Andrew Puta, Luke Mulholland, Corey Baird, Nick Besler, Shawn Berry, Pablo Ruiz.
Chico Grajeda (referee), Corey Rockwell (assistant), Peter Manikowski (assistant), Ted Unkel (fourth), Kevin Terry Jr. (VAR).
- George Bello made his first professional start and became the eighth youngest player (16 years and 243 days) to start a game in MLS history.
- Jeff Larentowicz appeared in his 387th career game, good for fourth place all-time in MLS history by a field player.
- Larentowicz also started his 368th career MLS game, also ranking in fourth place in MLS history by a field player.
- Atlanta posted its eighth shutout of the season.
- Atlanta now has a +29-goal differential, best in MLS this season. That’s tied for the fifth-best mark in league history with San Jose Earthquakes (2012).
- Tito Villalba has scored in three consecutive matches, the best mark in his MLS career.
- Gressel and Almirón each have 14 assists, one off of the league-lead (Borek Dockal, Philadelphia).
- With the bye into the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Atlanta’s first playoff match will be on the road on Nov. 4.