A second-half blitzkrieg lifted the Columbus Crew (9-15-7) to a 3-1 comeback win over the defending MLS Cup champions in Atlanta United FC as part of an overall fantastic night of individual and team performances for the Black & Gold.
Atlanta's (15-11-3) Josef Martinez opened the game's scoring in the 19th minute with a close-range finish off an in-swinging cross.
From there, though, a bend-but-don't-break mentality kept Crew SC in the match as ATL rode some post-goal energy through the following 10 minutes, but all in all, the opening 45 ended with the same 1-0 scoreline.
Prior to tonight's match, Crew SC's record when down at the half? 10 losses, four draws.
Only seven minutes later, Diaz scored a club GOAL OF THE YEAR candidate with a left-footed, far-post swinger from 18-yards out.
Zardes' goal marked his 12th of the season - eight of which have come on the road - while Diaz tallied his second goal of the season after coming off his first career cap for Costa Rica nearly a week ago.
The victory makes it a regular-season sweep for Crew SC over the reigning champs, as ATL's 11-match home unbeaten streak comes to an end. The win also marked the Crew's first-ever win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
On the defensive end, Jonathan Mensah and Aboubacar Keita paired at centerback for the first time this season as the Crew's stellar defensive effort limited one of the League's top offensive teams to four shots on target.
Notably, the Crew is the only club this season to sweep Atlanta. Prior to Saturday's match, Columbus had been shutout a League-high 11 times on the year, while Atlanta held eight clean sheets in 14 total home matches. Now, Columbus is unbeaten in nine of the last 10 matches.
Up next, Crew SC heads to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps on Saturday, Sept. 21 for a 5:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Supporters can watch Saturday's match on FOX Sports Ohio, or listen on ESPN 1460 AM or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).
Atlanta United FC
Gyasi Zardes registered his 12th goal of the 2019 regular season in tonight’s road contest against Atlanta United. Zardes’ goal came in the 53rd minute, when he pounced on a loose ball following a stop by Atlanta’s Brad Guzan. Notably, Zardes’ goal marked his fourth goal in his last three road matches, as he previously scored a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes (August 3) and recorded a brace against FC Cincinnati (August 25). In 2019, Zardes has made 25 regular-season appearances (all starts), while scoring 12 goals and providing two assists.
Luis Diaz recorded his second goal of the 2019 regular season in tonight’s 3-1 victory over Atlanta United. The midfielder’s goal came in the 60th minute after he sped down the right flank and fired a shot past Atlanta’s goalkeeper, putting the visitors up 2-1. Notably, with his goal, Diaz has scored a goal in his last two road matches, as he previously scored a goal – his first MLS career strike – in a 3-1 victory against FC Cincinnati (August 25). In 2019, Diaz has made 10 regular-season appearances (six starts), while scoring two goals and providing three assists.
With his start in tonight’s contest, midfielder David Guzman reached 50 MLS regular-season starts (57 appearances) since joining MLS in 2017. Guzman played the entire 90 minutes in tonight’s match, registering two shots, making four tackles and winning five duels. Since joining Crew SC on May 6, 2019, Guzman has made 14 regular-season appearances (11 starts) for the Black & Gold.
With its 3-1 win against Atlanta United in tonight’s contest, Crew SC finishes the 2019 regular-season undefeated against Atlanta, as the Black & Gold previous defeated the reigning MLS Cup champions 2-0, during a home contest at MAPFRE Stadium on March 30.
Next up, Crew SC travels to face the Vancouver Whitecaps in a road contest at BC Place on Saturday, September 21 (5:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio, FOX Sports GO / 1460AM ESPN Columbus and streaming online via the “Listen Live” button at 971TheFan.com / Spanish audio on ColumbusCrewSC.com).