A goal and assist from Josef Martinez and a goal and assist from Luiz Araujo carried Atlanta United past Miami 2-0 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It was just the team’s second win in its past nine league games and was important because it moved it to within one point of the seven-team playoff line in front of an announced attendance of 42,539. The points were also important because the team will play its next three games on the road at Toronto, Red Bulls and NYCFC. The team has won just twice in its history in those venues.

“I think it’s a positive performance and one they should be proud of,” interim manager Rob Valentino said.

Also of importance, the mental miscues that have plagued the team either didn’t happen or weren’t punished. It was the team’s third shutout this season, aided by Miami being reduced to 10 men in the first half following back-to-back yellow cards. The defense featured four players 21 years old or younger.

“I said before we have a young group, but I think everyone from the youngest players to the most experienced guys, they all did their jobs today and played well, and I think this group has really big aspirations,” said 20-year-old goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo, who made his first MLS start. “If we continue to play like this, then you know things will go our way.”

The team played without manager Gonzalo Pineda and attacking midfielder Thiago Almada. Both received red cards in the previous game against Columbus.

The lineup for Sunday was the same as for Tuesday’s win against Pachuca: Martinez at striker with Ronaldo Cisneros and Araujo on the wings, Marcelino Moreno as the attacking midfielder, Emerson Hyndman and Franco Ibarra as the central midfielders, Brooks Lennon and Caleb Wiley as the fullbacks, Alan Franco and George Campbell as the centerbacks, and Rios Novo in goal. It was the first league start this season for Hyndman.

Atlanta United grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute on Araujo’s third goal. The play started with Ibarra pressuring Miami’s Robert Taylor into a turnover. Martinez was the first to the loose ball. He passed it across the top of the penalty box to Araujo, who one-timed a left-footed shot into the lower left corner. It was Martinez’s third assist.

“I think you guys are seeing the results and the games that we’re playing,” Araujo said. “So today it’s easy to be able to score and it feels great, but it’s not just us. It’s all of our teammates out there.”

Atlanta United’s fortunes continued to improve in the 29th minute when Jean Mota received a second yellow card for a late tackle of Moreno to stop a counterattack and was sent off, reducing Miami to 10 players. Mota’s first came in the 25th minute.

Atlanta United didn’t take advantage of its numerical superiority, though, until the 61st minute.

The play started with Atlanta United clearing a corner. Moreno took the ball some 60 yards, fighting through one tackle to stay on his feet, before passing to Wiley. He cut inside and shot, which was saved. The loose ball came to Araujo on the left. He passed it back to the middle for Martinez to hit a right-footed shot right down the middle for his third goal this season. It was Araujo’s second assist. It was Martinez’s first goal since March 19 against Montreal.

“It‘s nice to score and especially when the game is 1-0,” Martinez said. “I think that we know that we have some really important games coming up. These three games that we have are going to be really difficult, but I think the effort was there. I’m really happy to get the three points, and all the guys in the locker room were really tired, and that means that they put in a good performance. So that’s really important for us.”

For more content about Atlanta United

Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson

Atlanta United coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Southern Fried Soccer podcast can be found

Apple - https://apple.co/3ISD6Ve

Spotify - https://spoti.fi/3L8TN0C

Google podcasts - https://bit.ly/32KlZW3

If you are listening to us for the first time, please follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast ... and if you like what you hear, please give us a good rating so we can grow the show.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a special offer for Atlanta United supporters and listeners to this podcast. If you subscribe today, you will not only get unlimited digital access to the AJC and the Sunday paper for $2.30 a week but we are also throwing in a special limited-edition Atlanta United and Atlanta Journal-Constitution scarf. Sign up now at subscribe.ajc.com/utdscarf.

Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas