VANCOUVER — Josef Martinez scored to help Atlanta United continue their winning ways Wednesday as the club posted a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Atlanta (6-3-2) has won five games in a row, shutting out its opponents in each contest.
The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Whitecaps (3-6-3).
Martinez put away the game’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the 29th minute.
United ‘keeper Brad Guzan had two saves and collected his sixth clean sheet of the season.
Maxime Crepeau stopped five shots for the Whitecaps.
Atlanta’s penalty kick was called midway through the first half after Vancouver winger Lass Bangoura ran into Atlanta’s Gonzalo Martinez.
Officials reviewed the play and determined it was a foul in the penalty area.
Martinez stepped up to take the kick, sailing a ball past Crepeau on the right side.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan striker has five goals this season. He led the league with 31 goals in 34 games last year.
The penalty kick came just minutes after another close call for Atlanta. Martinez got a shot across the box from down low and Crepeau dove to make the stop, but the ball rolled beyond his out-stretched hands. Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert made the clear.
Vancouver struggled throughout the game to break through Atlanta’s defence.
The ‘Caps controlled nearly 57 per cent of the possession in the first half but didn’t manage to get a single shot on target.
The team got some scoring chances in the second half but couldn’t beat Guzan in net.
Bangoura got a long ball off from outside the top of the box in the 57th minute, forcing the netminder to make a crouching stop.
It looked as if Whitecaps striker Joaquin Ardaiz would even the score in the 81st minute, but his sliding shot went just wide of the United goal.
Vancouver’s best performance of the night came from Crepeau midway through the second frame when he was forced to make a trio of stops in quick succession.
First the ‘keeper turned away a point-blank blast from Hector Villalba. The rebound bounced out and Eric Remedi tried to put a right footed shot away from the centre of the box, but Crepeau stopped that too. When Gonzalo Martinez tried to finish what his teammates had started with a header, Crepeau smothered the ball, putting an end to United’s flurry of opportunities.
The Whitecaps head to Kansas where they’ll play Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
United are off to New York where they’ll face the Red Bulls on Sunday.
NOTES: Atlanta’s Franco Escobar was shown the yellow card for dissent. Vancouver’s Ali Adnan and Ardaiz, and United’s Remedi each received a caution for unsporting behaviour. … Fredy Montero donned the armband for Vancouver. Jon Erice, who usually acts as captain, sat out after suffering an ankle injury in training on Monday. … Wednesday marked a return to B.C. Place for Atlanta’s Brek Shea. The defender spent two seasons in Vancouver before signing with United FC as a free agent last December.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press