Originally published on MLSsoccer.com by Benjamin Baer | Oct 26, 2017
Columbus Crew SC were definitely the underdog when they traveled to the South to face Atlanta United in the Knockout Round of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. That didn't matter, as they escaped Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a win after a wild 120 minutes and a penalty-kick shootout.
Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen made eight saves during the first 120 minutes, some of the spectacular variety, and he came up with two huge saves in the shootout against Julian Gresseland Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.
Atlanta 'keeper Brad Guzan made a few big saves of his own, including one on Pedro Santos in the first half. Michael Parkhurst cleared a Harrison Afful header off the line in the 118th minute to ensure the match went to a penalty shootout.
Crew SC will now advance to face New York City FC in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- Martino calls elimination unfair, says he "didn't talk about penalties"
- Crew SC savor underdog win: "We relish the idea of knocking people off"
- Crew SC's Zack Steffen after huge win: "We wanted the shut the crowd up"
- ATL: Julian Gressel - SAVE
- CLB: Federico Higuain - GOAL
- ATL: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez - SAVE
- CLB: Kekuta Manneh - SAVE
- ATL: Hector Villalba - GOAL
- CLB: Niko Hansen - GOAL
- ATL: Jeff Larentowicz - POST
- CLB: Adam Jahn - GOAL
- WILD, SCORELESS 120: Some might tell you that scoreless draws are boring. That was certainly not the case on Thursday as Atlanta and Columbus combined for a wild 120 minutes. The teams took 41 shots combined, with both Steffen and Guzan standing on their heads, and multiple shots hitting the woodwork.
- CONTROVERSIAL CALL: A minute after Justin Meram nearly snagged the lead, the Iraqi international threaded a through ball to Santos in the 40th minute on a play that eventually ended with Ola Kamara putting the ball in the back of the net. But the play was whistled dead following a controversial offside flag by the assistant referee. Replays showed Santos may not have been in an offside position.
- ATL GOES DOWN: Many expected ATLUTD to challenge Toronto FC for the Eastern Conference slot in MLS Cup. Despite getting a home match to start their Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs run, the Five Stripes' high-powered attack was unable to breakthrough a staunch Crew SC defense. They will go into the offseason with this heartbreaking defeat on their minds.
- ATL: End of Season.
- CLB: Conference Semifinals vs. New York City FC, Tuesday Oct. 31 (8 pm ET; ESPN in US | TSN1/4/5, TVAS in Canada)