Columbus scored three goals in the first 33 minutes and the Crew advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-2 victory over Atlanta United in the rubber match of a first-round MLS Cup series on Sunday night.
Columbus (17-9-9) upped its unbeaten streak at home in all competitions to 17, but the third-seeded Crew will hit the road for a semifinal matchup with No. 2 seed Orlando City on Nov. 25. Top-seeded FC Cincinnati will host the fourth-seeded Philadelphia Union in the other semifinal, also on Nov. 25.
The Crew hit the ground running against Atlanta United, grabbing the lead in the 9th minute on an unassisted goal by Darlington Nagbe. It was Nagbe’s third career postseason goal and his second with the Crew.
Defender Malte Amundsen pushed the lead to 2-0 eight minutes later, using an assist from Aidan Morris to score his first career goal in the playoffs. Alexandru Matan made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute with his first career postseason netter. Diego Rossi and Cucho Hernndez notched assists.
Giorgos Giakoumakis used assists from Brooks Lennon and Thiago Almada to score in the 35th minute and Atlanta United (13-10-12) trailed 3-1 at halftime. Giakoumakis scored two goals in his first postseason. He became the first player in club history to contribute to three goals in a playoff match in the 4-2 win in Atlanta.
Rossi scored off an assist from Matan two minutes into the second half for his first postseason goal with the Crew and a 4-1 lead. Rossi, in his first season with Columbus, scored one goal in the playoffs during his two seasons with Los Angeles FC.
Xande Silva answered three minutes later for Atlanta United to complete the scoring. Lennon and Ajani Fortune had assists on Silva’s second goal in his first postseason.
Patrick Schulte finished with two saves for the Crew. Schulte had a clean sheet in the Crew’s 2-0 victory in the opener. Brad Guzan saved four shots for Atlanta United.
Columbus won just two of its first seven matches at home with Atlanta United, but the Crew picked up three wins there this season and have scored multiple goals in the last eight matchups on their home turf. Columbus improves to 20-1-8 in its last 29 home matches in all competitions. The Crew have won seven in a row at home in the playoffs.
Atlanta United has won only four of its last 36 road matches in all competitions. Atlanta United was shut out in all three of its previous postseason matches away from home.