Atlanta United have been officially eliminated from the MLS is Back tournament after their third consecutive 1-0 defeat in the group stage, this time to the Columbus Crew. The Five Stripes head home without a goal or a point or much of an idea how to create chances without their best player.
The Crew controlled the majority of the first half, effortlessly passing around Atlanta’s disjointed and confused shape. After failing to convert an early clear cut chance created through another defensive error that created a huge gap, they found the game’s opener.
Youness Mokhtar gave Columbus the lead in the 18th minute when a centering pass from the left flank found him in space near the penalty spot. His side-footed shot deflected off Miles Robinson, past Brad Guzan, and hit the post and bounced in.
The Crew continued to control play after the goal with Atlanta only mustering a few chances from free kicks.
A halftime switch in tactics from Frank de Boer gave the Five Stripes a bit of a spark. They finally managed to present a danger to Columbus’ goal, but it still wasn’t enough to score a goal.
Crew goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made a couple of good saves late in the match to ensure that Atlanta would be the only participating team in the tournament not to score a single goal.
What’s next for Atlanta United? A lot of soul searching and uncertainty as to when they’ll actually play another game. Stay tuned.