Josef Martinez scored for the 11th straight match, a Major League Soccer record, and the visiting Atlanta United cruised to a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday night.
The win was Atlanta's fifth in a row and seventh in the past eight games across all competitions, and it vaulted them into first place in the MLS Eastern Conference. With total wins as the tiebreaker, Atlanta United (14-9-3) took over first place from the Philadelphia Union (13-8-6), though both teams are on 45 points. Atlanta has one game in hand.
The Timbers (11-10-4) missed a chance to move up to fourth place in the Western Conference. The loss kept them in seventh place with the tiebreaker advantage over FC Dallas (10-10-7). Portland has two games in hand on Dallas.
Portland lost for just the second time in 10 league matches in a rematch of the two teams that played for the MLS Cup last December, won by Atlanta. The Timbers have played three games of a 10-game homestead.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez scored off a rebound of a blocked shot from Martinez in the 14th minute, and Atlanta took a 1-0 lead into halftime despite numerous chances for the Timbers.
The Timbers couldn't convert an on-target header from Jeremy Ebobisse, saved by Brad Guzan in the 42nd minute, and had an apparent goal nullified by an offside call.
Atlanta United was close to a 2-0 lead in extra time of the first half, but Steve Clark stopped Ezequiel Barco's breakaway shot. They took the 2-0 lead 45 seconds into the second half when Martinez chipped an open shot past Clark after a pinpoint assist from Julian Gressel.
Martinez raised his season goal total to 21, three behind MLS leader Carlos Vela of Los Angeles FC.
Portland defender Julio Cascante had a header miraculously saved by Guzan, who had five saves, in the 64th minute.
The match marked the return of original MLS Timber Darlington Nagbe, who spent his first seven seasons in Portland after being the team's first-ever MLS draft pick. Nagbe helped lead the team to its first MLS Cup title in 2015, then was traded to Atlanta before the 2018 season.
--Field Level Media