Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco scored goals in the first half, and Atlanta United snapped Orlando City’s six-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Sunday at Orlando City Stadium.
With Orlando City trailing 2-0, Justin Meram scored his first goal of the season in the 57th minute to bring the Lions back within one. It was also Meram’s first goal with Orlando City.
Orlando City fans, unhappy with the officiating, littered the field with trash in the final minutes as Atlanta United fended off several late threats by the Lions to secure the win over their Eastern Conference rivals.
First-place Atlanta United improved to 8-2-1. Fourth-place Orlando City fell to 6-3-1.
On Atlanta’s first goal, Miguel Almiron slipped a pass to Greg Garza inside the box. Garza went down with minimal contact, but it was enough to draw a whistle and earn a penalty kick.
Martinez stutter-stepped on his penalty-kick approach, got Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik diving the wrong way and finished easily inside the left post to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the match. It was Martinez’s MLS-leading eighth goal of the season.
Barco made it 2-0 in the 21st minute, finishing off a cross back to the top of the box from Garza. It was Barco’s second career MLS goal after being signed by Atlanta for a league-record $15 million in the offseason.
Orlando City was sloppy with the ball and often lost its composure during a first half dominated by the visitors.
Atlanta United were without starting goalie Brad Guzan, who was suspended after receiving a red card for a hard tackle on a goal-scoring opportunity in a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. Alec Kann made his first start of the season in goal and recorded five saves for the win.
Bendik stopped one shot.
Orlando City makes the trek north to take on defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC on Friday.
Atlanta returns home to host the New York Red Bulls on May 20.
—Field Level Media