Atlanta United fell 3-1 at home to Columbus Crew SC in front of 68,056 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night. Josef Martinez extended his record goalscoring streak to 14 MLS matches after finding the opener in the 19th minute, but three second-half goals won it for Columbus. Despite the loss, Atlanta clinched a playoff berth thanks to Montreal’s loss to FC Cincinnati.
After an even beginning to the match, Atlanta broke through from Martinez after buildup play from that started with Emerson Hyndman collecting a Brad Guzan outlet near midfield. The midfielder then found Pity Martínez with a through ball on the left side. Pity sent a cross towards the six-yard box where Josef Martinez beat his defender near post and scored his 24th goal of the season. With that goal, the Venezuelan striker extended his MLS record to 14-straight games with a goal.
Atlanta nearly doubled its lead in the 34th minute. Josef and Pity had a quick passing exchange at the top of the box. Pity Martínez then dribbled past one defender and curled a left-footed shot inches past the left post. In the final minute of the half, Justin Meram beat his defender on the left side and took a shot that was saved by Eloy Room.
The start of the second half belonged to the visitors as Columbus equalized in the 53rd minute. Gyasi Zardes led a break down the left and played the ball to Luis Diaz. His shot was saved by Brad Guzan, but the rebound fell to Zardes, who rifled the ball into the top left corner from 10 yards out. Crew SC then took the 2-1 lead in the 60th minute on another counterattack. Diaz was left open on the right side and dribbled towards the edge of the box. He cut inside and curled a left-footed strike past the diving Guzan to the far corner for the lead.
Columbus secured all three points in the 85th minute. Diaz sent a cross to the far post where Miles Robinson attempted to clear the ball out for a corner. The ball bounced off his shin and into the back of the net past Guzan to make it 3-1 in favor of Crew SC.
Shots: 15-12 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 4-4
Corner kicks: 5-4 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 11-6 Columbus
Clearances: 26-6 Columbus
Possession: 64-36 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 84-72 Atlanta
Atlanta United (15-11-3, 48 points) returns to action Wednesday, Sept. 18 against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium (7:30 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Southeast, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).
Photo: Courtesy of ATLUTD