Columbus Crew SC secured first place in Group E of the MLS is Back Tournament with a tight 1-0 win against Atlanta United. While it was not one of the Crew’s best performances of the tournament, the Black & Gold did just enough to take all three points and eliminate Atlanta from MLS is Back.
With a perfect group stage and knockout round soccer to look forward to, there is plenty for Crew fans to celebrate. This shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, but these fans were once again ecstatic to watch their team play.
Tonight's match feels bigger than my head tells me it should be (already advanced, early season, etc.). Nevertheless, really hoping we continue (and improve on) this run of form, and put Atlanta to the sword quickly. #Crew96— David Barrington (@dbarr17) July 22, 2020
Fans were also excited to see Black & Gold legend Frankie Hejduk up on the big screen during the game.
FRANKIE FRANKIE FRANKIE #Crew96— x-Jared Contraguerro #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@SteelJacket729) July 22, 2020
The Crew scored the game’s only goal in the 18th minute as defender Milton Valenzuela found winger Youness Mokhtar for his second goal of the tournament. It was a real team goal, with 19 passes leading up to it.
helpful deflection, but THAT'S A GOOD GOAL RIGHT THERE MOHKTAR #Crew96— Hacksaw Jim Thuggin (@ProjectPsion) July 22, 2020
Mokhtar has been crazy good this tournament and yet he’s the 5th-best player on the team god #crew96— SanchSZN (4-1-0) (@Sanch2020) July 22, 2020
Name a better duo than Columbus and beautiful ball movement. #Crew96— Ryan Exline (@iamironman21) July 22, 2020
I think I'm starting to like Porter-ball. Very nice team goal #Crew96— Jordan Molnar (@JMolnar13) July 22, 2020
Unfortunately, Mokhtar came off injured at the end of the first half. Crew fans wished him a speedy recovery and that the recent rash of injuries across the team might come to an end.
Hopefully it's just a minor, but painful issue for Mohktar. He's been very good and I dont want to lose him going into knockout games#Crew96— Jordan Molnar (@JMolnar13) July 22, 2020
This is what happens when you play in a swamp https://t.co/YRG3ZmMhGV— GCGBAG (@gcgbag96) July 22, 2020
Summoning circle. I hope this works. #Crew96— The Crew View (@The_CrewView) July 22, 2020
The second half proved to be a bit tougher for the Crew and it certainly wasn’t the team’s most exciting half of soccer.
I am getting extremely frustrated with this game...So many fouls not being called on ATL... #Crew96— Shannon Frey (@curlsss3) July 22, 2020
A good chunk of the half was dedicated to whether or not Atlanta defender Franco Escobar was ever going to get a second yellow card (spoiler alert: he was subbed off before that could happen).
My daughter just now:— J.D. Smith (@DegenerateTBone) July 22, 2020
"Whenever we get back to the stadium again, and we play Atlanta, we have to boo number 2 for them (Franco Escobar)."
Her priorities are in order. She was also appalled he wasn't sent off. #Crew96
That’s not the way Escobar should have left this match. #Crew96— Scott Szuch (@ScottSzuch) July 22, 2020
With starting goalkeeper Eloy Room out due to injury, offseason signing Andrew Tarbell took over in goal. Tarbell made some big saves, particularly in the last few minutes, and Crew fans were quick to praise the shot stopper.
Tarbell has to be MOTM yeah? 3 amazing saves in the dying moments to keep the clean sheet in the game and the group. #Crew96— Zombii (@imazombii) July 22, 2020
I thought Andrew Tarbell really acquitted himself well in place of Eloy Room. #Crew96 might be in good hands GK-wise if Room remains unavailable during the KO round.— John Bava III (@LWOSJohnBava) July 22, 2020
While it was less than stellar, the game was won and Crew fans celebrated taking first place in Group E with three wins and three shutouts. With the group conquered, Columbus now moves on to the knockout stage to face the second place team from Group D.
One thing I’ve been impressed with by #Crew96 during this tournament is when it seems like opponents get to high danger areas they collapse on them and quickly clear the ball. It’s been impressive to watch.— Jeff. (@JeffinRealLife) July 22, 2020