Atlanta crashes out of the “MLS is Back Tournament” after third-straight loss

Atlanta United fell to Columbus Crew SC 1-0 Tuesday night at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Atlanta dictated play for most of the second half and forced multiple saves during the final 10 minutes, but the loss ultimately eliminated the club from MLS is Back Tournament

Columbus struck when Youness Mokhtar finished off a long sequence in the 18th minute. Mokhtar received a pass near the edge of the box and played Milton Valenzuela wide. The return pass came once Mokhtar snuck inside the box, where he immediately attempted for goal. Despite a diving attempt from Miles Robinson, the ball only slightly changed direction, before ultimately landing inside the near post.

Atlanta made a pair of changes at halftime to shake things up. That included 2018 SuperDraft pick Jon Gallagher, who made his First Team debut. Eric Remedi also came on for Fernando Meza, and with more of an attacking threat, Atlanta was able to push forward, attempting 13 second-half shots, including five on goal forcing saves from goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.

Particularly late, Atlanta forced multiple saves from Tarbell, with perhaps the best chance coming deep in stoppage time from Anton Walkes that forced Tarbell to get low to make a save. Ultimately, though, Atlanta could not find an equalizer. 

Change needs to happen and fast if the club wants to turn things around. After the match, goalkeeper Brad Guzan commented on the need for change and the mood in the locker room.

““Disappointment. Frustration. After the first game we talked about what playing for this club means. We have to get better. There is a huge level of frustration and disappointment. This isn’t what Atlanta United is about. It’s not a good feeling in the locker room.”

It remains to be seen how the goalkeeper’s comments will be received by the front office. If you remember, former center back and unofficial team leader Leandro González-Pirez made similar comments in Orlando, at this exact time last year, and was shipped off at seasons’ end.

Atlanta finished group play at the MLS is Back Tournament in fourth place, while it fell to 2-3-0 (6 points) in the MLS Regular Season.

-Jon J.

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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