Atlanta United sealed the gaps in their playoff woes Sunday evening by beating New York City FC at home 3-1, winning on aggregate 4-1. The Five Stripes will play the winners of Sunday night’s encounter between New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew on November 25th, right after the International Break.
After winning 0-1 away at New York, Atlanta United made New York City FC undeserving of a playoff spot after Josef Martinez’s two goals and Miguel Almirón’s free-kick strike. Maxime Chanot got back a goal for New York City FC right before half-time but New York City’s failure to intercept key passes and keep up with the speed of Atlanta United;’s counter-attacking knocked them out of the MLS Cup.
Although Atlanta United got the result they wanted, this match was marred with controversy. Early on, from the sixth minute, Chanot saw a yellow card for throwing a rough tackle at Almirón and the referee pulled the yellow card out of his pocket five more times in this match.
What surprisingly did not see the referee bring out a card was the encounter in the second half between Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan and a New York City FC player in which Guzan headbutted the player, straight into the head of the other player, and only received a warning from the referee.
Despite this, after running straight through the back line of the New York City FC defense, Martinez received a lobbed pass from Almirón, which he vollied for his second and Atlanta United’s third goal, thus giving Atlanta United the ticket to the MLS Conference Finals.