By Tim Peterson
(Carson) – Josef Martinez scored in the 22nd minute and Atlanta United FC added a late goal to beat the Galaxy 2-0 Saturday night before 25, 846 at StubHub Center.
The Galaxy had opportunities thoughout the match but could never break through. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who started and played the entire match, didn’t have many chances to score although he did appear to be fouled late in the game which could have resulted in a penalty kick but no penalty was called.
Prior to Martinez’ goal Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham made two big saves and Martinez also hit the post on a free kick in the 20th minute. Martinez, after a shot was turned away in front of the net, cleaned up the garbage and tapped it in for a 1-0 lead.
The Galaxy threatened in the first half. Ola Kamara used a bicycle kick in the seventh minute right in front of the net but pushed it wide left. In the 26th minute Sebastian Lletget had a chance at point blank but was denied by Brad Guzan of Atlanta.
In the 29th minute Perry Kitchen drew a yellow card for a foul on Atlanta’s Miguel Almiron. Almiron also drew the foul from Daniel Steres that set up Martinez’ goal.
Ibrahimovic received a cross pass near the box in the 38th minute but was unable to make a play on it. One minute later Kamara shot one wide left off a dish from the right side.
There were three minutes of additional time added in the first half but the Galaxy entered the break down 1-0.
Atlanta outshot LA 10-4 in the first half including 7-3 in shots on target.
In the second half Romain Alessandrini looked to even it up in the 61st minute but was stopped by Guzan from the right side.
Giovani dos Santos, who has been hampered by an injury, entered the game in the 66th minute replacing Lletget as he tried to provide a spark for LA but was unable to get a shot off.
The Galaxy were buzzing around the Atlanta net and had a golden opportunity just before the end of regulation but a shot in front was booted high over the net.
Four minutes of additional time were added to the second half but the Galaxy couldn’t get the ball in the net.
In additional time Almiron was fouled and scored on a penalty kick for Atlanta which proved to be the dagger.
“Obviously it’s disappointing but I think they (Atlanta) were the better team tonight overall, especially in that time where they dominated the game and created opportunities. I thought there was a period of time where we carried the game as well,” said Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid. “But I don’t think we got enough shots off in that period and we were looking for one extra pass all the time. And there’s times where you just have to say hey were going to hit it.”
Atlanta United FC finished with 19 shots overall compared to 7 for the Galaxy. Atlanta had 7 shots on target to just 1 for LA.
With the defeat the Galaxy fell to 3-3-1 while Atlanta, who is second overall in the East, improved to 5-1-1.