Josef Martinez scored his fifth goal of the season and his second from the penalty spot, and Atlanta United set an MLS record with a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night, their fifth win in a row via shutout.
Three days after scoring his first goal of the season, Pity Martinez earned the penalty at BC Place as Atlanta (6-3-2, 20 points) built upon the league's longest active win streak. The Philadelphia Union have won three in a row.
The victory pushes United up to third in the Eastern Conference standings, level on points with the Montreal Impact and ahead of them on goal difference. And it puts Atlanta alone in MLS history in terms of consecutive shutout victories. Previously, eight teams had won four in a row without conceding, but never five.
Maxime Crepeau made five saves for Vancouver (3-6-3, 12 points), which was outshot 17-7 overall and 6-2 in terms of efforts on target. Vancouver saw its win streak snapped at two games. The Whitecaps were second best for most of the evening despite having four days off following their previous game -- also at home -- against Atlanta's two.
Pity Martinez earned the penalty in the 27th minute when he won a loose ball on the right side of the penalty area, turned his body toward the goal line and absorbed Lass' challenge from behind.
After the Whitecaps protested to referee Baldomero Toledo, Josef Martinez stepped up to take it two minutes later, approaching it quickly and hammering his finish above Crepeau's dive and inside the right post.
Atlanta would've doubled its lead without Crepeau's exceptional string of three saves in the 59th minute.
First, the 25-year-old smothered Hector Villalba's breakaway effort. Josef Martinez kept the play alive and found Eric Remedi, who saw his shot denied again by Crepeau, and the 'keeper somehow scrambled to his feet just in time to thwart Pity Martinez's rebound header as well.
For an encore, Crepeau denied Josef Martinez's 67th-minute header with a flailing left-legged stop. And then he intervened with his feet well outside his box to keep Julian Gressel from adding on an insurance tally in the 90th minute.