MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis 901 FC moved to the verge of clinching a postseason berth as it took a 4-2 victory against Atlanta United 2 on Saturday night at AutoZone Park that saw four different players find the back of the net and leading scorer Kyle Murphy notch his 18th goal of the campaign.
Looking to build on a big midweek victory, Memphis went close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when Roland Lamah got in behind the Atlanta defense in the left channel and shot to the far post but was denied by a good kick save by goalkeeper Vicente Reyes. The 17-year-old then reacted quickly to recover and deny a chance on the rebound to 901 FC’s Dre Fortune as he arrived in the penalty area.
Fortune had a clearer effort on goal from 25 yards four minutes later as he curled his shot toward the right corner after Murphy had been dispossessed as he drove across field, while Murphy was denied from 12 yards as Lamah cut back a pass from the left side of the penalty area to Memphis’ leading scorer only for Reyes to come up with another good save in the 25th minute.
Reyes almost committed a key error shortly after as he was unable to claim a corner kick from the left cleanly, but Niall Logue’s attempt to finish from the top-right corner of the six-yard area went off target. Laurent Kissiedou then tried to catch Reyes off his line with a chip from 45 yards that went just over the Atlanta net.
The visitors had their first good chance to open the scoring when Ajani Fortune – younger brother of Dre – curled a free kick to the right corner of the net in the 41st minute but saw it parried away by Memphis goalkeeper Cody Cropper. Two minutes later, though, Atlanta was awarded a penalty kick as David Mejia was brought down in the box and Abdoulaye Diop sent his shot from the spot just beyond the reach of Cropper, who but a hand to the shot to the left corner but wasn’t able to keep it out.
Atlanta tried to double its lead just over a minute into the second half when Mejia cut in from the right and fired a shot to the far corner from 25 yards that Cropper parried away, but then Memphis took control of the game with a pair of goals in the span of three minutes. The first came on a quickly taken free kick as Kadeem Dacres tried to get onto a ball over the top, and while the defense thwarted him it was unable to clear cleanly, which set up Lamah for a shot that just crossed the line before a covering defender could clear.
Dacres then put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute as he began the move by playing Dre Fortune into the left channel, and after a low cross was deflected away from goal by a defender the veteran winger powered home a first-time shot into the right side of the net.
The visitors tried to hit back just before the hour-mark as Caleb Wiley wove into the left side of the penalty area and cut back a cross that found Ajani Fortune for a first-time shot to the bottom-left corner that Cropper got down to save, but a minute later 901 FC struck again through Murphy as the striker latched onto a through-ball by Kissiedou and sent his finish into the right corner of the net.
Ajani Fortune struck for the visitors to make it a one-goal game again in the 64th minute, though, as the ball caromed into his path off a defender after Robbie Mertz and Mejia had tried to combine at the top of the penalty area, and the Trinidad and Tobago international curled his shot into the top-left corner of the net from 25 yards. Just as quickly, Memphis restored its two-goal advantage as Dacres played Murphy into the right side of the penalty area for a first time shot that Reyes got a hand to only for Alan Winn to be on hand to tap home the rebound.
From there, Memphis closed out the game comfortably to remain in third place in the Central Division at the end of the night and will now tune in to watch OKC Energy FC’s clash with Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday to see if it will clinch its first postseason berth.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Kyle Murphy, Memphis 901 FC – Murphy scored his 18th goal of the season and had five shots overall while completing 10 of 13 passes and recording five recoveries defensively as the host’s attack soared once again.
ATL – Abdoulaye Diop (Penalty) 44’
MEM – Roland Lamah 50’
MEM – Kadeem Dacres 53’
MEM – Kyle Murphy (Laurent Kissiedou) 60’
ATL – Ajani Fortune 64’
MEM – Alan Winn 69’