Villalba, Asad and Vazquez carry Atlanta United to 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake

| April 23, 2017

Vazquez scores in professional debut; Atlanta improves road record to a league-best eight points (2-1-2)

SANDY, Utah — Atlanta United defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in front of 18,946 fans. Tito Villalba, Yamil Asad and Brandon Vazquez tallied for Atlanta United, which finished its four-game road trip 1-1-2. The win moved the club into fourth place in the Eastern Conference and improved its league-leading goal-differential to +9. The win also improved Atlanta’s road record to a league-best eight points (2-1-2).

“The key tonight is that we capitalized on our opportunities,” Atlanta head coach Tata Martino said. “We had chances to score when we pressured them and forced them to make mistakes. Other than that, it was a very even game.”

For the sixth time in seven matches, Atlanta United (3-2-2, 11 points) scored the first goal of the match with Tito Villalba hammering home Atlanta’s third consecutive attempt during the ninth minute. After Atlanta intercepted an attempted pass from Real Salt Lake’s goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Greg Garza and Yamil Asad combined to play Miguel Almiron on, but his attempt was saved by Rimando. Villalba then corralled the rebound and fired again but the RSL goalkeeper was there to save, again pushing it back to Villalba who finally buried his attempt to give Atlanta the lead.

Atlanta doubled its lead early after halftime, doing so in the 46th minute with Asad easily slotting home a goal into a wide-open net. Almiron dispossessed RSL defender Chris Wingert, then fed Asad past an on-charging Rimando. Asad was able to calmly beat a defender and add to Atlanta’s lead.

Real Salt Lake (2-4-2, 8 points) cut into Atlanta’s lead in the 69th minute when Albert Rusnak found space near the edge of the penalty box and perfectly placed a shot inside of the far post to beat a diving Alec Kann. RSL kept the pressure up and earned a free kick in the 76th minute, but Joao Plato’s attempt was high.

Determined to go home with all three points, Atlanta put the game away behind 18-year-old rookie Brandon Vazquez in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time. Vazquez had just made his professional debut three minutes earlier, coming on for Kenwyne Jones, and latched onto a through ball from Julian Gressel before beating goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.

After four consecutive road matches, Atlanta returns home to face D.C. United on Sunday, April 30 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1.

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