Atlanta United forward Xande Silva #16 dribbles during the first half of the match against Columbus Crew at Field in Columbus, OH on Wednesday November 1, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United fell to Columbus Crew 2-0 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of Round One’s Best-of-3 series in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Columbus broke a scoreless tie in first-half stoppage time before adding a second from the penalty spot. Atlanta will host Game 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday, Nov. 7 (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass, 92.9 The Game, SiriusXM, La Mejor).

Brad Guzan kept Atlanta in the match throughout a tightly contested first half. His first save came against former teammate Darlington Nagbe, who had time and space just outside the box before unleashing a shot that forced Guzan to make a diving save in the 19th minute. Columbus continued to pile on the pressure after that, attempting nine shots total in the half.

“Honestly, I’m really disappointed with how the attack played out tonight. But it’s still just the first game of the series. We have the second game coming up. We have to keep our heads up and continue working.”

Saba Lobjanidze on the attack tonight

Cucho Hernández broke the deadlock on a counter-attack to give Columbus a 1-0 lead in the second minute of stoppage time. After a turnover in Atlanta’s attacking third, Columbus progressed the ball quickly to Diego Rossi who played Hernández into space. He dribbled the ball into the left side of the box before firing a left-footed shot into the top-left corner of the goal.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Gonzalo Pineda made one substitution, bringing on Saba Lobjanidze into the midfield to replace Tristan Muyumba, who had picked up an early yellow card in the first half and continued making questionable fouls.

Columbus added a second goal just minutes into the second half from the penalty spot after Ronald Hernández was ruled to have fouled Matan inside the area. Cucho Hernández placed his penalty kick to Guzan’s right and into the back of the net for his second goal of the match.


Shots: 14-1 Columbus
Shots on target: 8-0 Columbus
Corner kicks: 5-2 Columbus
Fouls Committed: 14-7 Atlanta
xG: 1.85 – 0.07 Columbus
Possession: 51-49 Columbus
Passing accuracy: 88-87 Columbus

Pineda made two more attacking substitutions in the 60th minute and switched to a back four after bringing on Jamal Thiaré and Edwin Mosquera for Xande Silva and Ronald Hernández. Needing a goal, the Atlanta attack immediately looked its most dangerous on the night after the substitutions. After a good combination play, Jay Fortune had an opportunity from the edge of the box, but his attempt sailed wide.

Atlanta will host Game 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday, Nov. 7 (7 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass, 92.9 The Game, SiriusXM, La Mejor).

-Jon Jones

Photos: Courtesy of ATL UTD

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