Perhaps the toughest test in MLS for Columbus Crew SC right now. Atlanta United has been challenge in every regular season matchup, winning all three times they’ve faced off and outscoring the Black & Gold 7-1 in their matchups. The only blip being the big playoff win last October.
This year, Atlanta is flying even higher. They currently are the co-leader of the Supporters Shield race, tied with New York Red Bulls on 48 points though 24 games. Their high flying offense has the most goals in the league at 50 and leading scorer Josef Martinez is at 26 goals on the year and is primed to break the league record.
Columbus Crew SC’s June swoon has seen them drift away from the top of the Eastern Conference. They are firmly in fourth place at 39 points, 6 ahead of Montreal and Philadelphia. That tally leaves them 9 behind Atlanta and Red Bulls. A win today would keep the cushion for fourth and give them thoughts of an ever better seed.
Full Time: Crew SC fall 3-1 to Atlanta United.
94’ Artur picks up a yellow card for a grab as Almiron moved past. Just about a minute of stoppage.
86’ Argudo last #CrewSC sub. Santos departs.
82’ Almiron scores to make it 3-1. Martinez drops a pass off the cross for the long distance finish. This team is ruthless in transition.
77’ Atlanta goal. Villalba collects the long outlet with Crew SC in the attacking penalty box. He slips past Abubakar and crosses by Jonathan and finishes past Steffen. Jimenez overcommitted on the initial pass to Villalba and took himself out of the play.
76’ Handball? Cross hits Larentowicz’s arm, but call is waved off by Jair Marrufo who had a very good look at it.
70’ Double Crew SC sub. Meram replaces Opoku. Mullins replaces Higuain. Columbus will likely move to the 4-4-2.
69’ Martinez gets a free header in the box and hits the crossbar. Another great chance for Atlanta. Remains 1-1.
66’ Steffen fooled a bit by a shot by Villalba. Eventually Abubakar sends the ball over for a corner. Atlanta pressing in possession.
66’ Higuain sends in Opoku, ball sent around to Afful then Higuain. Parkhurst clips ball away from diving Zardes header.
59’ This game has come alive. Afful leads the break, but it’s squandered as he plays Higuain rather than Zardes or Opoku wide.
56’ Steffen comes up huge. Almiron gets off the shot as Atlanta cruises through in transition. What a save to keep it tied.
55’ Oh... Santos with a cross to Zardes. It carroms off his Zardes’ chest and arm and out. He would have been clear on goal.
53’ CHANCES! Opoku crosses from the right to Zardes. Turns, shoots, and saved. Santos gets the rebound and it’s blocked. Opoku’s ball needed to be ahead of Gyasi instead of behind.
50’ GOAL CREW SC! Trapp plas a ball through the midfield line. Zardes takes a touch and shoots from outside the 18 and beats Guzan.
2nd half kicks off. No changes for Crew SC.
Halftime. Crew SC trail Atlanta 1-0.
45’+ MCCann’s rugged challenge earns a yellow and a Crew SC free kick. Eventually Higuain is able to test Guzan, but it’s around the post.
42’ Santos drives a cross into the box. Zardes heads it over the goal.
31’ 1-0 Crew SC trails as Atlanta United scores. Josep Martinez with his 27th goal. Jonathan has a poor pass to Trapp in midfield and it’s an easy transition goal.
29’ Crew SC get a free kick as Santos is lightly clipped, but the resulting kick is right into the hands of Guzan. Wasted chance.
27’ Chance from Atlanta. Almiron gets behind the defense and crosses through the box. Josef Martinez slips and the long distance shot from McCann is well high.
25’ Game has been played between the boxes. Atlanta with the possession and Columbus trying in transition, neither finding success.
17’ Lalas gets on the end of the free kick. His wide angle shot hits side netting.
16’ Zardes plays a header forward to Santos who is clipped. A great possible chance turned into a free kick.
14’ Jonathan gives up a foul on the right edge of the box and gives up a good free kick chance. Columbus clears the chance, but Atlanta retains possession.
8’ Crew SC with a long outlet, but it’s easily shut down. Columbus looking directly early as they aren’t able to pass out of the back well.
3’ Atlanta transitions quickly and the shot is out for a corner. Takes a little bit, but Crew SC finally clear the danger.
1’ Kickoff in Atlanta
Ralph Schudel scouts the opposition Five Stripes. The staff isn’t so confident as Crew SC travel to face the league leaders. Pat Murphy crossed the touchline and talked to Haris Kruskic, of Dirty South Soccer about the inside scoop on today’s opponents.
Injuries & Suspensions:
Columbus Crew SC: Eduardo Sosa is out with knee surgery and won’t return to practice until September.
Atlanta United: The hosts have been hit with several long term injuries. Defender Greg Garza remains out after shoulder surgery in late May. Fellow defenders Sal Zizzo and Mikey Ambrose are suffering from knee injuries that are keeping them out months as well. Key midfield cog Darlington Nagbe remains out with a right adductor injury suffered in June.
How to watch:
Date: Sunday, August 19th, 2018, 4:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, (Atlanta, Georgia)
TV: CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2