2018 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Julian Gressel (37')
  • H├ęctor Villalba (61')

Atlanta's 16-year-old George Bello makes first start in win over Real Salt Lake

Atlanta 2-0 RSL: Gressel lifts Atlanta - Via MLS (2:12)

Julian Gressel scored a goal and assisted Hector Villalba, as he led the Five Stripes to an easy victory over an overmatched Real Salt Lake. (2:12)

Julian Gressel had a goal and an assist as Atlanta United FC defeated visiting Real Salt Lake 2-0 Saturday.

Atlanta retained its four-point edge over the New York Red Bulls in the race for the Supporters' Shield, which goes to the team with the best regular-season record in MLS.

Real Salt Lake had their four-match unbeaten string snapped and lost for just the second time in their past 10 games.

Gressel opened the scoring in the 37th minute with his third goal of the season with an assist from Miguel Almiron.

Almiron dribbled the ball down the left wing to the touchline and crossed it to Gressel near the top right corner of the penalty area. Gressel settled the ball with a chest trap and struck a volley into the left side netting, past the reach of RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Atlanta made it 2-0 in the 61st minute, as Hector Villalba took a throw-in from Gressel at the top of the area and blasted a half-volley that went off the right post and ricocheted off Rimando's back and into the net.

The play was set up by a brilliant fake from forward Josef Martinez, the league's leading scorer, who ducked Gressel's throw-in and allowed it to bounce to an open Villalba. It was the team-leading 14th assist of the season for Gressel, one behind Philadelphia's Borek Dockal, who tops MLS.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan made three saves to post his eighth shutout of the season, matching the franchise record he set in 2017 in Atlanta's expansion year.

Defender George Bello, a 16-year-old homegrown player, made his first start for Atlanta. The native of Douglasville, Georgia, received a rousing ovation at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when he was replaced in the 73rd minute.

Real Salt Lake's Rimando, the league's career leader in shutouts, made six saves.

RSL defender Marcelo Silva (ankle) and midfielder Kyle Beckerman (hamstring) both played despite being listed as questionable for the match.

Major League Soccer Standings

1 Sporting Kansas City 34 +25 62
2 Seattle Sounders FC 34 +15 59
3 LAFC 34 +16 57
4 FC Dallas 34 +8 57
5 Portland Timbers 34 +6 54
6 Real Salt Lake 34 -3 49
7 LA Galaxy 34 +2 48
8 Vancouver Whitecaps 34 -13 47
9 Houston Dynamo 34 0 38
10 Minnesota United FC 34 -22 36
11 Colorado Rapids 34 -27 31
12 San Jose Earthquakes 34 -22 21

Major League Soccer Standings

1 New York Red Bulls 34 +29 71
2 Atlanta United FC 34 +26 69
3 New York City FC 34 +14 56
4 DC United 34 +10 51
5 Columbus Crew SC 34 -2 51
6 Philadelphia Union 34 -1 50
7 Montreal Impact 34 -6 46
8 New England Revolution 34 -6 41
9 Toronto FC 34 -5 36
10 Chicago Fire 34 -13 32
11 Orlando City SC 34 -31 28