MLS SOCCER Soccer

Atlanta loses 1-0, exits tournament with zero goals and points

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar #2 heads the ball during the first half of the third group stage match in group E against the Columbus Crew at the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday July 21, 2020. The MLS is Back Tournament is the resumption of Major League Soccer’s 25th season after a three-month postponement during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

ORLANDO, Fla. — In what was Atlanta’s worst showing in a tournament since starting play in 2017, United lost 1-0 against Columbus Crew, exiting the tournament with zero goals, zero points and three defeats.

United also lost every match by only a one-goal difference. 

“Of course we are very disappointed with the result. We were depending on the result of tomorrow night, but still if you are going to leave you want to leave with three points,” Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer said. “You want to have that positivity leaving going back home to Atlanta. But now it’s disappointing. That’s normal when you lose three times by the score of 1-0. Very disappointing for everybody that loves Atlanta United.”

After what seemed an even match, Columbus took the lead at the 18th minute when Youness Mokhtar scored the first goal of the night after his shot hitted off Miles Robinson’s and Brad Guzan was unable to keep it from the back of the net. 

During the scoring play, the Crew were able to connect 19 straight passes before Milton Valenzuela assisted Mokhtar in the goal. 

During the rest of the first half, Columbus dominated the pace of the match, with several other goal scoring opportunities. 

United came within reach of tying the match when a free kick by Ezequiel Barco was saved by goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.

In the second half, United showed more strength in its offensive as the team had more goal scoring opportunities than they did in the entire first half. Despite having more opportunities, the team failed to find the back of the net and lost the match 1-0.

Atlanta United also became the only team in this tournament to have not score a single goal during the tournament.

“Disappointment. Frustration. After the first game we talked about what playing for this club means. When you step on the with an Atlanta United crest on your shirt, you are not just representing this club, your representing the city of Atlanta and all of our fans. We set the bar so high the last couple of years. So to go through what we are going through right now, you can talk about experienced players,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “There’s also inexperienced players on the field. It’s the role of the experienced ones to help the younger guys along. It’s the role of the younger guys to pick up information quickly and learn on the job so to speak. 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.”

Meanwhile for Columbus, the team will advance to the knockout stage as the first place of group E with a perfect three-win record.

For now, United will return to Atlanta but there’s not a definite plan on what will happen after since there’s no official announcement on when and if the regular season will resume after the MLS is Back Tournament.

“Well first the guys will have a couple of days off. That’s normal since we’ve been in the bubble for a long time. Then we will start ramping again to be ready with what’s going to happen. We don’t know the plan of MLS right now, but we can still practice a lot of what we want,” De Boer said. “Playing different systems and what we expect from them. We have enough time. I think we need the time to really train what we want to see and get confidence for when it starts up again.”

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