Columbus Crew SC vs. Atlanta United FC Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

Cucho Hernandez scored and Patrick Schulte made three saves as the Columbus Crew opened defense of their MLS Cup title with a 1-0 victory against visiting Atlanta United in Saturday’s season opener.

Hernandez scored in the 27th minute and Atlanta was unable to get the equalizer despite recovering from the poor start to have two shots on target and numerous missed opportunities in the second half.

Hernandez, who had 16 regular season goals and five more in the playoffs, picked up where he left off. Diego Rossi slid a pass through the goal box that goalkeeper Brad Guzan got a hand on but couldn’t stop from reaching Hernandez near the right post for the shot.

Guzan got revenge in the 54th minute with a penalty save on Hernandez, who was 7-for-7 from the spot last season. Guzan, who dove to his right to deny Hernandez, finished with two saves.

Mo Farsi drew the penalty when he got behind the defense before Stian Gregersen clipped him. Gregersen was given a yellow card while Farsi left the game with an injury.

Schulte shined in the 71st minute when he got his left hand on a close-range shot by Giorgos Giakoumakis, who scored 19 times last season (including playoffs).

The match was played under sunny skies that belied the 30-degree temperature with a wind chill in the low 20s. Field conditions were not an issue despite a few inches of snow overnight.

The Crew received their championship rings prior to the match and quickly showed the same offensive spark that ousted Atlanta in the Round One matchup en route to their third MLS Cup in history and second since 2020.

Hernandez forced a save by Guzan in the eighth minute and four minutes later, Hernandez set up Jacen Russell-Rowe for an open shot but he misfired to the left of the goal.

Ten minutes after the Hernandez goal, Russell-Rowe again failed to score when he clanked a shot off the left post.

The Crew held a 12-1 shot advantage in the first half.

Crew captain Darlington Nagbe started his 102nd consecutive regular season match, the third-longest streak in MLS history.

–Field Level Media

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