Giakoumakis, Atlanta United beat Crew to force Game 3


Atlanta United thump Columbus to even series

Atlanta United beat Columbus Crew 4-2 to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.

Giorgos Giakoumakis scored and had two assists as host Atlanta United staved off elimination with a 4-2 victory against the Columbus Crew on Tuesday in Game 2 of a best-of-three Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The deciding match will be played Sunday in Columbus, where the Crew won the opener 2-0 on Nov. 1.

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Giakoumakis gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. Cucho Hernandez continued his hot streak to tie it in the 45th before Giakoumakis set up Xande Silva for the go-ahead score in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, then fed Edwin Mosquera for a goal in the 83rd minute for a 3-1 advantage.

With the Crew pressing, Thiago Almada, who was suspended for the first postseason match after receiving a red card in the regular-season finale, made it 4-1 in the 88th minute. The Crew's Max Arfsten scored in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time for the final margin.

The series winner advances to a conference semifinal knockout match against either Orlando City or Nashville SC.

Atlanta United players celebrate after scoring a goal against Columbus in the MLS playoffs.
Atlanta United players celebrate after scoring a goal against Columbus in the MLS playoffs.
USA Today Images

It was a frenetic end to the first half befitting the Crew, the top-scoring team in MLS, and Atlanta, the league's second-highest scoring club.

Giakoumakis, named MLS Newcomer of the Year on Thursday after he led Atlanta with 17 goals, was the recipient of a perfect cross from Brooks Lennon for an unmarked header from 6 yards to open the scoring.

The Crew responded off a turnover with Diego Rossi receiving a feed from Steven Moreira. Rossi dribbled to the top of the box then found Hernandez, who scored both goals in the first match, on the left side for a shot that snuck inside the left post. Hernandez has 13 goals in the past 10 matches and 19 for the season including the playoffs.

Atlanta came back on the transition and had numbers in the box when Giakoumakis passed to Silva, who restored the visitors' lead going into the break.

Mosquera executed a give-and-go with Giakoumakis for the two-goal lead and some breathing room, and Almada padded the lead. Almada had 11 goals and 19 assists in the regular season.