Josef Martinez scored twice to extend his MLS-record goal-scoring streak to 15 games as visiting Atlanta United defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0 on Wednesday to tighten the Eastern Conference race.
In avoiding its first three-game losing streak in its third year of existence, Atlanta (16-11-3, 51 points) moved to within six points of first-place New York City FC and is one point back of the Philadelphia Union. Each team has four matches left.
Cincinnati (6-22-3, 21 points) has a win and a draw in its past 11 matches.
Martinez broke the scoreless tie in the 59th minute. His streak is now six games longer than the previous MLS mark he shared with Diego Valeri.
He made it 2-0 in the 65th minute to give him 26 goals this season, tied for second in MLS with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the LA Galaxy and two back of Carlos Vela of LAFC. Martinez scored a league-record 31 goals last season.
Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan made one save for his 14th shutout of the season, two shy of the league record set by Tony Meola of the Kansas City Wizards in 2000.
He was under pressure early in the second half and made a save on Joseph-Claude Gyau in the 56th minute.
Shortly afterward, Atlanta went on the counter-attack, and Cincinnati could not stop "Pity" Martinez's through ball to Josef Martinez. Once Josef Martinez dribbled into the box, he fired a rising shot past Przemyslaw Tyton for a 1-0 lead.
Josef Martinez, who has six game-winners, made it 2-0 after taking an entry pass from Julian Gressel. He took a touch with his right foot to create space then spun and shot with his left.
Atlanta is so reliant on Josef Martinez that his 26 goals are two more than the rest of the team has combined.
On Saturday, Cincinnati remains home to play the Chicago Fire while Atlanta hosts the San Jose Earthquakes.