Atlanta United's Josef Martinez continues to rewrite the MLS record books.

By Associated Press
September 19, 2019

CINCINNATI (AP) – Josef Martinez scored two goals six-minutes apart in the second half to help Atlanta United FC secure a 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati Wednesday night.

Martinez gave Atlanta (16-11-3) the lead in the 59th minute on a shot 12 yards out from the center of the box, assisted by Gonzalo Pity Martinez. Martinez sealed it in the 65th on a shot 11 yards out from the center of the box, assisted by Julian Gressel. The goals extended his MLS record scoring streak, which now stands at 15 games, and he's within two of Carlos Vela for the league lead, tied with Zlatan Ibrahimovic with 26 goals on the season. In 2018, Martinez set the single-season MLS record with 31 goals.

Atlanta outshot Cincinnati (6-22-3) 15 to 12, with seven shots on goal.

Atlanta drew seven corner kicks, committed 11 fouls and was given three yellow cards. Cincinnati drew four corner kicks, committed nine fouls and was given one yellow card.

Both teams next play Saturday. Atlanta hosts the San Jose Earthquakes while Cincinnati plays the Chicago Fire.

Elsewhere in midweek MLS:

Red Bulls snap skid

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Kyle Duncan scored his first MLS goal in the opening minutes and Daniel Royer added a penalty kick in stoppage time to give the New York Red Bulls a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.

The Red Bulls (13-13-5), jockeying for home-field advantage in the playoffs with three games remaining, snapped a three-game losing streak.

''I think there was a sense of urgency, and we felt we had that last game, too, and you can throw the one in before that. Look, it's always tricky when you lose, because it puts you to the test,'' Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. ''But we've talked a lot around here about being big in tough moments, and standing tall, keeping your head up and sticking together.''

It was the second straight loss for the Timbers (13-13-4) and fifth at home this season, matching the team's mark for most home losses set in 2011, their first season in Major League Soccer.

Portland has gone 2-4 in its last six games as it tries to secure a spot in the postseason with four games left. Last year, the Timbers advanced to the MLS Cup final.

''The only way to go through it is to stay calm, to keep on working, and to make sure that these things don't get to you, because if you start worrying too much in regards to missing opportunities and not being able to score, then you lose the belief,'' Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. ''And what you have to always have is the belief that you can achieve things and that's what we need right now: to make sure we keep believing in ourselves.''

The Timbers had just 16 players available on Sunday when they fell 1-0 to D.C. United. Portland's top scorer, Brian Fernandez, was back in the starting lineup against the Red Bulls after missing the previous game with a stomach illness.

Zarek Valentin, who missed the United game because of the birth of his first child, also started. Sebastian Blanco, who had a calf injury, was available on the bench.

Royer, Bradley Wright Phillips and Kaku did not start against the Timbers. Wright-Phillips and Royer came in as substitutes in the second half.

''It was a huge win for us, but more importantly, I thought it was a really strong performance, especially with our backs against the wall,'' Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis said. ''I think we showed our best stuff, so we should be proud of that.''

Duncan scored for the Red Bulls in the third minute on a cross from Marc Rzatkowski. They nearly went up by another goal in the sixth minute when Rzatkowski's rebound was cleared by Bill Tuiloma.

Duncan, a defender, is in his second season in the league. Assigned recently to the team's USL team, he was making his first appearance with the Red Bulls since July.

The Red Bulls were awarded the penalty in stoppage time after Jorge Moreira took down Rzatkowski in the box.

Portland's best chance came in the 19th minute when Diego Chara got a clear look at the goal but his shot caromed off the crossbar. Jeremy Ebobisse had another chance in the 82nd minute but his shot went just inches wide.

''We play good games. If you think about the games that we have lost points here at home, most of them we have played better than the rival. Sometimes the result doesn't reflect the way of the game,'' Timbers captain Diego Valeri said. ''But at the end, soccer is all about efficiency, it's all about moments where you can change the game, and this is a moment where we have to be very smart and focused on it.''

The Red Bulls were coming off a 4-2 loss at Seattle on Sunday. Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles played at the University of Portland, where the team practiced between the match against the Sounders and Wednesday night's game.

Robles said it felt like one of the biggest wins of the season.

''It feels like it, especially coming off of three losses. When we played Seattle on the weekend, we thought the game was there for us, and we got unlikely with the own goal. But this is a remarkable group, there's a lot of resiliency in it.''

The Timbers were hurt when Cristhian Paredes had to be stretched off in the 73rd minutes. He was replaced by Blanco.

The Red Bulls host the Philadelphia Union on Sunday while the Timbers host Minnesota.

Sounders, FC Dallas play to scoreless draw

SEATTLE (AP) – Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said it was two points lost for the Sounders. His coaching counterpart, Luchi Gonzalez, saw it as one big point gained for FC Dallas.

Stefan Frei made three saves for his first shutout since July as both Seattle and Dallas picked up a crucial point in the standings by battling to a scoreless tie on Wednesday night.

The Sounders (14-9-8) reached 50 points and retained their tenuous hold on second place in the MLS Western Conference. They're now two points ahead of third-place Minnesota and four in front of Real Salt Lake.

''It's always two points dropped when you draw with a team at home,'' Schmetzer said in a somber tone. ''We weren't sharp in the first half and it took us awhile to get going. The second half, I thought we played better. We had some good half-chances, a couple crosses that went astray or not to the right guy - it always just seemed like something was a little off.

Dallas (12-11-8) now has 44 points, and combined with Portland's 2-0 home loss to the New York Red Bulls, jumped ahead of the Timbers in the West. Dallas and San Jose are tied for sixth with 44 points. Portland dropped into eighth.

''A good point. A positive point. I thought the boys showed a good reaction to the last game (a 4-0 blowout loss at Chicago last Saturday) to come to a difficult place to earn points,'' said Gonzalez, whose team has three games left to secure a postseason berth, while Portland and San Jose each have four.

''We prevailed defensively and kept zero in our net, so that's really positive,'' Gonzalez added. ''Offensively, I think we got near the box with some open space to create some quick attacks, and we didn't get one. So we want to keep improving no matter where we play.''

The last shutout for Frei and the Sounders was 1-0 at Houston on July 27. In the eight games since and before Wednesday's game, Seattle had allowed 19 goals in going 3-3-2.

It was Frei's eighth shutout of the season.

''It has been a while, so that's the one positive we can take from today, the fact that we were able to limit their chances,'' Frei said. ''I think we were a little tired today (after Sunday's 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls), and maybe that inadvertently kind of helped us defensively. I think today our positioning as a unit was a little better and there were less holes, and we were able to plug them when we did have holes.''

Jesse Gonzalez earned his seventh shutout for Dallas. He made three saves.

Cristian Roldan had Seattle's best scoring chance. In the 55th minute, Joevin Jones sent a cross from the left wing to the top of the 6-yard box. Roldan ran onto it, but launched his shot over the top.

''The second half, we were much better and we did create come good chances. It's a shame we couldn't get one,'' Schmetzer said.

Roldan also was well positioned for a shot in the 38th minute, but as he tried for a header at the top of the 6-yard box, the cross from Joevin Jones flew just inches beyond his reach.

The most dangerous try for Dallas came in the 38th minute when Dominique Badji sent a rising shot goalward from the top right corner of the penalty area. Frei made a leaping save.

The Sounders played the final four minutes of regulation and all nine minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after Xavier Arreaga was sent off with his second yellow card.

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