Columbus Crew SC earned a 2-1 win over Atlanta United on Decision Day presented by AT&T, ensuring they’ll have a home game in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs by clinching the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed. The result also bounced the Five Stripes from playoff contention, since they needed three points and some help to sneak into the East's 10-team field.
Columbus opened a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute through Lucas Zelarayan, with the Argentine midfielder scooping a left-footed finish past Brad Guzan. After some combination on the left flank, the club-record signing expertly collected a Milton Valenzuela pass centrally before finishing.
The Crew then made it 2-0 in the 55th minute via Gyasi Zardes, as the US men’s national team striker capped off a fast break for his 12th goal of the year. He was played through by Artur, then smashed a left-footed effort under Guzan.
Chasing a late equalizer, Atlanta's fate was sealed when Franco Escobar was shown a second yellow card in the 91st minute, reducing his team to 10 men. Escobar's frustrations boiled over, as he got into a sideline altercation before departing the field.
- 28' – CLB – Lucas Zelarayan | WATCH
- 55' – CLB – Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- 59' – ATL – Marcelino Moreno (PK) | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After missing the playoffs last year, the Crew have returned to the postseason, landing the No. 3 seed over Orlando City SC on total wins (12). They both finished on 1.78 points per game, prompting tiebreakers to settle the standings. As for Atlanta, they’ve missed the playoffs for the first time since entering MLS in 2017. MLS Cup champions as recently as 2018, they face a long offseason with several key decisions ahead, ranging from a new head coach to roster changes.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Franco Escobar’s red card guaranteed that Atlanta United wouldn’t stage a comeback. It also encapsulated their season in some ways, with a hot-headed moment carrying beyond the referee’s decision.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Lucas Zelarayan’s first-half goal set the tempo, meant Atlanta United faced an uphill climb and put Columbus in the driver’s seat. It also ended a nine-game scoreless stretch for the Crew’s No. 10.
- CLB: Nov. 21, 22 or 24 vs. New York Red Bulls | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One Match
- ATL: End of season