*Note: This editorial was edited by ColumbusCrewSC.com and provided by MLSsoccer.com
Columbus Crew SC remains perfect in the MLS is Back Tournament with a 1-0 win over Atlanta United on Tuesday night, while Atlanta is now bounced from the competition.
Caleb Porter’s group, which has yet to concede and has the best goal differential in the competition at plus-seven, topped the group with nine points. Frank de Boer’s Five Stripes, meanwhile, failed to score once and finished at the bottom. They joined Inter Miami CF as the only team eliminated from the MLS is Back Tournament as of the final whistle.
Under Porter, Crew SC's regular-season record against Atlanta now stands at 3-0-0 with a plus-five goal differential.
The goal featured quite the build-up, totaling 19 passes before Mokhtar slotted in his second goal of the tournament.
The best chance at an equalizer for Atlanta came late, but Pity Martinez put his free-kick over the Crew SC wall and just wide of goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell's net.
Tarbell, who made his Crew SC debut after Eloy Room suffered a hamstring injury in training, also came up with two big saves just moments later to secure the three points.
By finishing in first in Group E, Crew SC will face the second-place finisher in Group D, which features Real Salt Lake, Minnesota United FC, Sporting Kansas City, and the Colorado Rapids.
- 18’ — Youness Mokhtar | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Mickey Mouse might be the main man on most days at Disney, but Caleb Porter has been the magic man throughout the tournament. He made five changes after Round 1 and seven more entering this match. And no matter who steps on the field, Columbus have controlled each match they’ve played. Atlanta had nothing in attack, in this game and throughout the tournament.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Mokhtar’s goal finished a 19-pass sequence, which surely will make Porter happy. Check it all out here.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: It’s been four months between their first two games back in March and their next three and Crew SC still have yet to trail in a match this season.
- Midfielder Youness Mokhtar scored his second goal of the 2020 MLS regular season in the 18th minute of tonight’s match against Atlanta United. Mokhtar’s game-winning goal came from a Milton Valenzuela pass inside the box. Since joining Crew SC midway through the 2019 season, Mokhtar has made 13 regular-season appearances (eight starts), registering three goals and two assists.
- Defender Milton Valenzuela provided the assist on Youness Mokhtar’s 18th-minute goal during tonight’s win over Atlanta United. Notably, this was Valenzuela’s first assist of the 2020 regular-season as well as his first assist since a 2018 home match against Minnesota United FC (October 28). Since joining Crew SC ahead of the 2018 season, Valenzuela has made 33 regular-season appearances (32 starts), tallying one goal and seven assists.
- Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made his first regular-season appearance (first start) in a Black & Gold jersey in tonight’s match against Atlanta United. Tarbell joined Crew SC in a trade with San Jose Earthquakes on February 19, 2020. The goalkeeper made six saves during tonight’s match en route to keeping a shutout against Atlanta United. This was Tarbell’s first clean sheet of the 2020 regular-season. This shutout – the first for Tarbell – marks the first streak of three consecutive shutout wins for Crew SC since the 2018 regular-season matches against Philadelphia Union (May 9), Chicago Fire (May 12) and at New England Revolution (May 19).
- Midfielder Pedro Santos took his 200th regular-season corner kick for Crew SC in tonight’s match against Atlanta United in the 12th minute. Santos has made 76 regular-season appearances (71 starts) in a Black & Gold uniform.
- Midfielder Darlington Nagbe completed one hundred percent of his passes during tonight’s match against Atlanta United. Nagbe completed 43 successful passes in 80 minutes played. This is the second time Nagbe has attempted 40-plus passes in an MLS match and completed each one, having previously completed all 48 of his passes for the Portland Timbers against FC Dallas (October 26, 2014).
- Tonight’s shutout against Atlanta United was Crew SC’s third consecutive clean sheet dating back to a regular-season match against FC Cincinnati (July 11). Additionally, the last regular-season goal Crew SC allowed from open play was against Vancouver Whitecaps FC last year in a 1-1 draw on September 21, 2019.
- Through tonight’s third Group Stage match against Atlanta United, Crew SC leads all teams competing in the MLS is Back Tournament in Goal Differential (+7), with LAFC next in the standings (+4). The black & Gold is also the only Club to have posted three shutouts thus far in the tournament.
- With the result against Atlanta United, Crew SC’s record moved to 4-0-1 (13 pts.) for the 2020 MLS regular season. Additionally, tonight’s result brought the Crew’s record in the MLS is Back Tournament to 3-0-0 with 9 points. The Black & Gold currently sit atop Group E on total points (9) and have placed first in the group.
- Up next, Crew SC waits to learn of its opponent for the Knockout Round, Round of 16 match of the MLS is Back Tournament on Tuesday, July 28 (8:00 p.m. ET [ESPN, TSN, ESPN App (Stream), TSN App (Stream)] / Streaming online via the “Listen Live” button at 971TheFan.com / Spanish audio on ColumbusCrewSC.com).