A night of mixed emotions for Atlanta United fans, with the Five Stripes officially clinching their place in the postseason despite falling 3-1 to the Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday.
Frank de Boer put out a strong lineup with the squad coming off a two-week break. Ezequiel Barco was held out of the lineup with injury while Leandro González Pirez missed the match due to a suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards. The full starting XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Florentin Pogba (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Franco Escobar (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Eric Remedi (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Emerson Hyndman (MID), Justin Meram (FWD), Jost Martinez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).
Atlanta United shook off the rust of two weeks off quickly and jumped on the front foot at the start. After a couple early chances, the Five Stripes took the lead in the first twenty minutes. It started with a beautiful pass from Brad Guzan to find Emerson Hyndman in the middle of the field, and the young American’s chipped pass into space set Pity Martínez free down the left flank. The Argentine looked up and whipped a ball into the center to Josef Martinez, whose shot toward the far post bounced off the defender and in. It was his 14th straight match with a goal, extending his own MLS record.
Atlanta United nearly doubled their lead before the half, with Pity Martínez’s curling effort swerving just past the post. But the teams went into the half with a 1-0 lead for the Five Stripes. It was a tale of two halves, though, and Atlanta United lost their momentum in the second 45 minutes. Gyasi Zardes’ left-footed finish leveled the score in the 53rd minute, and Luis Diaz’s curling far-post effort put the Five Stripes behind. And to emphasize just how it wasn’t Atlanta United’s night, Miles Robinson’s first career own goal made it 3-1 with less than ten minutes left –– and that’s how the game would end.
The good news for Atlanta United is they did clinch their spot in the postseason due to other results in the league. Cincinnati’s 1-0 win over Montreal meant Atlanta United will move on to the MLS Cup Playoffs after mathematically clinching their spot in the postseason. And more good news: the Five Stripes don’t have to wait long to get their shot at redemption. They head on the road for a midweek match against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, September 21st. Make sure you’re there to cheer on the Five Stripes by securing your tickets here.