Columbus Crew SC earned a 2-1 win over Atlanta United on Decision Day, ensuring they’ll have a home game in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs by locking up 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, as Columbus ends the regular season with a 9-1-0 record at home.
Now, Columbus will host the New York Red Bulls, the Eastern Conference’s No. 6 seed. Details on the date of Crew SC’s First Round MLS Cup Playoffs match will be announced in the near future.
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.
Atlanta clawed one back in the 59th minute when Marcelino Moreno dispatched a penalty kick to cut the deficit to 2-1. The opportunity arose when Valenzuela tripped up Jurgen Damm in the 18-yard box.
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 in a sideline altercation before departing the field.
The Five Stripes also saw a penalty kick waived off in the 24th minute, with Video Review deeming that Eloy Room didn’t foul Jon Gallagher as he ran through on goal.
By Crew SC Communications
• Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan scored his sixth regular-season goal of the sason during today’s match at home against Atlanta United. The midfielder found the back of the net off a Milton Valenzuela pass inside the box in the 28th minute to put Crew SC up 1-0. This year, Zelarayan has made 16 regular-season appearances (12 starts) while scoring six goals and providing four assists.
• Forward Gyasi Zardes scored his 12th regular-season goal in today’s match against Atlanta United. The game-winning goal came in the 55th minute of the match from an Artur assist, doubling Crew SC’s lead 2-0. Zardes’ tally was his 44th since joining the Crew in 2018. Additionally, Zardes moved up the Crew SC scoring charts and is now tied for fourth place all-time in regular-season goals with Stern John (44 goals).
• Midfielder Milton Valenzuela provided the assist in Lucas Zelarayan’s 28th-minute goal in today’s match against Atlanta United. The helper was Valenzuela’s third of the regular-season in his 19 appearances (17 starts) as well as his nith assist in Black & Gold since arriving in Columbus in 2019.
• Midfielder Artur’s assist on Gyasi Zardes’ 55th-minute goal was his fourth assist of the regular-season and his most in a single season in MLS since arriving in Columbus in 2017. In his 108 regular-season appearances (99 starts), the Brazilian has provided nine assists and has scored two goals.
• Defender Jonathan Mensah made his 100th regular-season appearance with Crew SC in today’s home match against Atlanta United. The defender joined the Crew ahead of the 2017 MLS regular season and has made 97 starts to go with his 100 regular-season appearances for the Black & Gold while registering three goals and providing three assists. In 2020, Mensah has made 23 regular-season appearances (all starts) and played every minute of Crew SC’s regular-season campaign — a total of 2,070 minutes.
• Today’s 2-1 victory over Atlanta United marked the fourth consecutive regular-season win for Crew SC against Atlanta dating back to a March 30 contest at MAPFRE Stadium last season. With the victory, the Crew’s brought its 2020 regular-season record to 10-1-0, marking just the second time in Club history the Black & Gold lost just one home match in regular-season history. The other time was during the 2001 season, when the Club finished with a home record of 7-1-5