LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Youness Mokhtar's goal in the 18th minute gave the Columbus Crew a 1-0 victory over Atlanta United on Tuesday night in the MLS is Back tournament.
The Crew clinched the top spot in Group E and are the first team in the World Cup-style tournament to win all three of their group matches and not surrender a goal. Columbus opened tournament play with a 4-0 victory over Cincinnati FC and followed that up with a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls.
Atlanta, which won the league two years ago and advanced to the Eastern Conference final last season, lost all three of their matches 1-0. They are the only squad in the 24-team tournament that didn't score a goal.
It is the first time in Atlanta United's 3-year history they have been shutout in three straight games. They have not scored in 305 minutes of regulation time in MLS games.
Milton Valenzuela set up Mokhtar's goal with a pass from the left side of the box to the center. He got off a shot despite being surrounded by three Atlanta defenders. Miles Robinson appeared to deflect the shot with his foot as goalkeeper Brad Guzan mistimed his dive and it went into the net.
It is the midfielder’s second goal of the season and the tournament. He went off in the 44th minute after being injured.
Atlanta United had two good scoring chances in the final 5 minutes but could not convert. Gonzalo Martínez's free kick from just outside box went wide right in the 88th minute. A minute later, Anton Walkes' shot from the left side of the box couldn't find the far corner.
Columbus goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell had a clean sheet in his first Crew start. Tarbell was acquired in a trade with San Jose before the season started.
Atlanta United wore armbands honoring longtime congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, who died Friday at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. The black armbands had the letters “J.L” written in white.
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