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Martinez scores twice, Atlanta United beats NYCFC 3-1

November 12, 2018
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New York City FC forward Jesus Medina, front center, and Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez, back center, battle for the ball during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — Josef Martinez scored two goals and Atlanta United won the first playoff series in franchise history, knocking off New York City FC 3-1 in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday.

Atlanta won the two-game series 4-1 on aggregate, finishing off the visiting team with Martinez’s second goal on a breakaway in the 83rd minute. The game drew a crowd of 70,526 — another attendance record for the 2-year-old franchise that has quickly developed one of the world’s most rabid soccer followings.

The victory made up for the bitter disappointment of Atlanta United’s inaugural season, when the expansion team made the playoffs but lost a knockout-round game at home to Columbus on penalties.

Atlanta claimed a big edge in the series by winning the first leg, 1-0 at Yankee Stadium. United, which finished two points behind New York Red Bulls in the Supporters’ Shield standings, returned home merely needing a tie to go through to the Eastern Conference final. They got more than that, earning a spot in the conference final against the Red Bulls.

Miguel Almiron also scored for United. Maxime Chanot scored for New York City.

RED BULLS 3, CREW 0, RED BULLS ADVANCED ON 3-1 AGGREGATE

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Daniel Royer scored twice in a 2:44 span late in the second half, and New York beat Columbus to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Red Bulls overturned a first-leg deficit and likely will free the U.S. Soccer Federation to hire Crew coach Gregg Berhalter to run the American national team.

Alex Muyl scored in the 17th minute to wipe out Columbus’ advantage from Gyasi Zardes’ second-half goal in the opening leg. Royer gave New York the aggregate lead in the 73rd.

SPORTING KC 4, REAL SALT LAKE 2, SPORTING ADVANCED ON 5-3 AGGREGATE

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Daniel Salloi scored two goals and Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake for Sporting’s first playoff win in five years.

It gave Sporting a 5-3 series win on aggregate to advance to face the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference finals, also a two-game series.

Diego Rubio also scored for Kansas City. Sebastian Saucedo and Damir Kreilach scored for Salt Lake.

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