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Atlanta Ga.– In dramatic fashion, Atlanta United lost in a penalty kick shootout 3-1 to Columbus Crew SC after Atlanta missed two out of the first three kicks.
In a historic night for Atlanta United FC and MLS, United became the first inaugural team to not only make the playoffs but also host their first playoff game in an elimination matchup between Columbus Crew SC.
Columbus started aggressively attacking putting pressure on the United’s defenders.
Atlanta started the game with their key defenseman Michael Parkhurst on the bench with a knee injury.
Early on, mid-fielder Miguel Almiron had a golden opportunity by striking a 30-foot shot and hitting the right side of the goal post which bounced back into play.
In the 40′ Crew SC’s Pedro Santos received a pass between the Atlanta’s defender and was able to pass to Justin Meram which got past the goal keeper Brad Guzan for an open net goal but Meram was called off-sides.
A few minutes later in the 43rd’, Fedrico Higuain got behind United’s defenders and shot a straight on goal that was blocked by Guzan. The half ended scoreless as both teams seemed very tight.
Atlanta opened up from halftime in the 46′ with a rush. They got down the Crew SC’s 18-inch yard box and Almiron had a empty right side of the net but once again hit the goal post.
Atlanta escaped a devastating situation again in the 68′. Columbus’ Kekutah Manneh hit the goal post and it bounced back with an opportunity for Santos to take advantage of a wide open net. He whiffed on it and it went wide left.
The intensity continued to pick up as Josef Martinez was the center of it. In the 72′, Martinez hit the goal post from a centered pass that just got past goal keeper Zack Steffen. Once again, Atlanta missed an opportunity as Martinez shot hit the goal post.
Guzan once again made his presence felt blocking a shot on the weak side after a perfectly centered pass from Manneh to Ola Kamara right before stoppage time.
Inside the 30 minutes of extra play in the 128th’, Atlanta dodged another bullet. Pankhurst saved a would-be winning goal after Guzman misplayed a pass which was kicked into a open net and Pankhurst kicked the ball away just as it was about to go in and cross the line.
Extra time ended scoreless which caused the game to be decided by penalty kicks. It went as follows.
-Atlanta’s Julian Gressel’s kick was blocked by Steffen in the lower left corner.
-Columbus’ Higuain scored by letting Guzan show his cards on where he was targeting the save and he softly tapped it in the middle of the net.
-Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez tries to mimic Higuain and gets blocked easily by Steffen.
-Columbus’ Manneh kicked a low strike in the left lower side which Guzan blocked.
-Atlanta’s Tito Villalba scored going high to the left side of the goal.
-Columbus Niko Hansen scored off a strike that just beat Guzan in the lower left corner
– Jeff Larentowicz tried to go lower left but looked to miskick as Steffen able to make an easy save.