the MLS Next Pro match against Inter Miami 2 at Fifth-Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Sunday September 17, 2023. (Photo by Asher Greene/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United 2 fell 3-2 against Columbus Crew 2 Sunday at Historic Crew Stadium in the final match of the season. Noah Cobb and David Mejía each scored their third goal of the season as Atlanta finishes the year with a 9-13-6 record in its first season in MLS NEXT Pro.

Columbus opened the scoring in the second minute of the match after Gibran Rayo sent a through ball past two defenders down the center of the pitch for Marco Micaletto. Kofi Twumasi deflected the pass but Micaletto continued his run into the 18-yard box. The Crew 2 man rolled the first goal of the day into the bottom right corner for the early lead.

In the 19th minute, Crew 2’s Abdi Mohamed scored off a set piece corner. After Rayo received the cross inside the 18-yard box, it was laid off to Mohamed for a sweet volley. It was struck with such force that goalkeeper Sebastian Guerra had no chance of saving it.

In the 29th minute, Rayo earned a penalty when the midfielder was knocked down by Twumasi inside the penalty area. Rayo scored the spot kick, placing it in the bottom left corner for the 3-0 lead.

Cobb cut the lead in the 37th minute after Atlanta earned a foul a yard outside the right edge of the penalty area. Tiente chipped a ball to the back post where Cobb patiently hit a half volley into the roof of the net. It was Cobb’s third goal of the season and Tiente’s fourth assist of the year.

Atlanta continued to fight in the second half with a high press that earned them several interceptions inside Columbus’ half. In the 82nd minute, David Mejía tacked on his third goal of the season to make it a one-goal game with less than 10 minutes to play. Nick Firmino began the play with the ball near the center line where the mid-season MVP sent a pass up to Mejía down the center of the pitch. Mejía took on two defenders before sending a shot that took a deflection and rolled into the back of the net. Despite the late push, Columbus held onto the lead and earned the three points at home to finish the season.

-Jon Jones

Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD 2

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