COLUMBUS — All streaks come to an end, and Columbus Crew SC’s unbeaten streak ended hard with a 2-0 home loss to Atlanta United. The defeat was the first loss for Columbus since April 14 at D.C. United, and the first home loss since March 31 against Vancouver.
Coming in at the top of the Eastern Conference, Atlanta was always going to be a tough opponent. Still, it looked to be in a different league than Crew SC, heavily outpossessing and outpassing the team early in the first half. Though Columbus was able to settle down as the game wore on, they couldn’t stop Josef Martinez on a set piece as the golden boot leader headed home his 14th goal of the season.
Unfortunately for Atlanta fans, Martinez collided hard on the header with Crew SC midfielder Artur. He bloodied his nose, was visibly shaken and had to be subbed off at halftime. The goal also ended Zack Steffen’s shutout streak at 525 minutes, good for eighth all time in MLS history.
Columbus was unable to gain any traction in the second half either, eventually conceding again in the 82nd minute to United substitute Hector Villalba. Despite having 13 shots to Atlanta’s six, both teams had three on target. Brad Guzan was rarely tested.
“It was a flat performance by us. We got beat tonight by a better team,” Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter said, “It’s frustrating. They didn’t have much going either, but they get the goal, and they continue to push and they get a late goal again. I just think for us it was a poor performance.”
Jun 13, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Pedro Santos (9) takes a shot under pressure from Atlanta United FC midfielder Miguel Almiron (10) at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Berhalter continued, shouldering the weight for the loss, “I’ll take responsibility for the guys being out of sorts. We had a plan, and the plan was to move the ball quickly through a certain area, and we didn’t execute that well. I don’t think we created enough to be honest…I think I didn’t get the selection right tonight, if I’m being completely honest. I think we came up short in a couple areas, and I think it could maybe have been different with a couple other selections.”
“[Atlanta] is a good team, but we have a good team too,” Artur said. “We are both in the top of the league, and it was a hard game.”
The Crew now enter a 10-day break for the start of the World Cup. Their next game will be on the road against LAFC.