Steffen, Crew beat Atlanta United on penalties to advance

October 27, 2017

Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen (23) defends the goal during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer game against Atlanta United, in Atlanta, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

ATLANTA (AP) — Twenty-two-year-old Zack Steffen made a career-high eight saves and the Columbus Crew advanced in the MLS Cup playoffs by besting expansion club Atlanta United 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw on Thursday night in front of a MLS playoff-record crowd of 67,221.

It was the second knockout-round game to reach extra time in MLS history after Portland and Sporting Kansas City went to penalty kicks in 2015.

Steffen dove to his right to deny the opening penalty kick and Federico Higuain scored for the Crew. Atlanta’s second attempt went directly to Steffen as he stood tall in the middle of the goal and Jeff Larentowicz hit the post on United’s fourth try. Adam Jahn won it for the Crew after entering as a substitute in the 120th minute.

Columbus, which is unbeaten in its last 11 games, advanced to play New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Atlanta was the third expansion team to qualify for the playoffs in its first season.

In the 118th minute, Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp chipped it over the defense to find Harrison Afful for a header, but Atlanta sub Michael Parkhurst cleared it off the line after goalkeeper Brad Guzan misplayed it.

The previous high for attendance was 61,316 at the 2002 MLS Cup in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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