MLS SOCCER

Atlanta United loses after second half collapse

Josef Martinez has now scored in 14 straight MLS matches

ATLANTA — Three goals in the second half by Columbus helped the team overcome a first half deficit and earn a 3-1 victory over the Five Stripes Saturday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Despite the home defeat, Atlanta clinched a spot in the MLS playoffs thanks to a loss by Montreal against Cincinnati. The Five Stripes will advance to the playoffs for the third straight season and will have an opportunity to defend its title.

Back to the match on Saturday, the Five Stripes took the lead at the 19th minute off a beautiful sequence of passes that led to the ball being struck into the back of the net by goal scoring machine Josef Martinez. The goal by Josef meant that he has now scored in 14 straight matches and also a total of 24 goals this season. 

Despite the team playing with more pace after the goal, Atlanta couldn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the first half and had to settle for a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes. 

Later, seven minutes into the second half, Gyasi Zardes tied the match after Atlanta’s defense failed to cleared a bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box and Zardes was able to place the ball into the upper left corner of the goal.

The even scored wouldn’t last, as a curled shot by Luis Diaz at the 60th minute gave the Crew its first lead of the match. 

Five minutes before the end of the match, an own-goal by Miles Robinson led to the third goal by Columbus.

“Today was an opportunity to win another game and keep fighting at the top of the table, and we let an important chance slip away.” Franco Escobar said. “We have to lift our heads because we have another game on Wednesday and (we will) turn the page and try to do things better on Wednesday.”

The Five Stripes will now be back in the road Wednesday night, when the team will travel for the first time to Cincinnati. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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