Miguel Almiron had two goals and an assist, and Julian Gressel added two assists as Atlanta United moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Brad Guzan had three saves in registering his seventh shutout for the Five Stripes (17-5-6, 57 points) who leapfrogged the New York Red Bulls (17-7-4, 55) into the top spot in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. Both teams have six games remaining, including a Sept. 30 showdown at Red Bull Arena.
Tim Howard stopped three shots for Colorado (6-16-6, 24), which was shut out for the fourth straight game. The Rapids have been outscored 13-0 in their last four matches after going 2-0-1 in the previous three games.
Almiron had a brace in the first 19 minutes as Atlanta United easily broke down Colorado’s defense with counters. The first came in the 10th minute off a long crossing pass from the right side of the 18-yard box from Gressel into the middle of the box, where Almiron tapped a shot past Howard.
Almiron’s second goal came at the end of a two-on-one down the middle of the field with MLS goal scoring leader Josef Martinez, who unselfishly passed the ball around defender Kortne Ford to a wide-open Almiron. The Paraguayan national then fired a shot into the top far corner of the net for his 11th goal of the season.
The Five Stripes made it 3-0 in the 37th minute when Almiron hit Gressel with an outlet pass. Gressel then connected with Hector Villaba with another crossing pass into the middle of the box, and Villaba redirected the ball past Howard for his fifth goal of the season.
Martinez, who has already broken the MLS single-season goal scoring record with 28, finished with an assist but did not attempt a shot. The Rapids outshot Atlanta, 18-8, but only three of the attempts were on target, against six for Atlanta.
—Field Level Media