United FC-CF Montreal Preview

National Sports

Josef Martinez celebrated “one of the most important days” of his career in midweek, as the Atlanta United forward scored his 100th goal for the club.

Martinez converted a penalty in the 78th minute to seal a 1-0 win over Inter Miami on Wednesday.

The win got the Five Stripes back on track in their hunt for a playoff spot, with a trip to CF Montreal coming up on Saturday.

“Today was a really important game,” Martinez said after the win over Miami. “It was also one of the most important days of my life, but it was also very important that we were able to get the win and three very important points.

“When I grabbed the ball, for a minute I was thinking about giving it to someone else. I had a lot of things going through my mind, so I simply just wanted to take the ball and shoot. I’m happy because it’s not everyday you make 100 goals.

“I want to say thank you to my team-mates, the ones that are here and the players that were here before, and everyone working at Atlanta United and also for my city because they mean a lot.”

Montreal, meanwhile, head into the weekend on the back of two defeats, the most-recent of which was a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of runaway MLS leaders New England Revolution.

“We lacked a bit of personality but we didn’t come into the game today feverish or off our game,” said coach Wilfred Nancy after that defeat to the Revs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CF Montreal – Joaquin Torres

Joaquin Torres scored CF Montreal’s lone goal in its 4-1 defeat to New England this week, his first goal since August 27 (vs Toronto FC).

Atlanta United – Josef Martinez

Having hit the 100 milestone, Martinez will now be eager to finish the regular season on a high. He is into double figures for goals in MLS this year, putting his injury troubles from last season well behind him.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Torres’ goal against the Revs was also the first of the club’s last eight goals that did not involve either Rommel Quioto or Djordje Mihailovic.

– Montreal won its first match against Atlanta United, 2-1, at home in April 2017. Since then, Montreal has managed just two points in seven meetings with the Five Stripes (D2 L5), though one of those points was a 2-2 draw at home on August 4.

– Montreal has lost two of its last three home matches (W1), including a 4-1 defeat to New England in midweek, having lost just once in its first ten such matches in 2021 (W6 D3).

– Atlanta followed consecutive away wins with a defeat at the Union in its most recent road outing. Atlanta has conceded at least one goal in its last 12 matches away from home, the longest such run in club history.

– Twelve of the last 15 goals conceded by Atlanta United came in the second half of its games and none of those 15 goals have been conceded in the first 30 minutes. Moreover, Atlanta has conceded 32 per cent (10/31) of its goals in the final 15 minutes this season, the highest ratio in the league.

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