Columbus needed penalties to get past Atlanta United in the knockout round of the 2017 MLS playoffs. The two teams finished scoreless through 120 minutes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, but that says nothing about the quality of the game. Both teams had close chances, relying on the frame of the goal and quality play from their goalkeepers. The goalkeeping was the story in the penalty phase, with the Crew's Zach Steffen making the difference in the 3-1 penalty win.
"I mean it’s been a long season," Steffen said. "There’s been a lot of games, so each experience you learn and towards the end of the season, you kind of get in your form. Right now, I feel good and the guys in front of me are playing well. So, I’ve got to keep the team in the game."
The Crew advance to play NYCFC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That series begins on Tuesday in Columbus (8pm ET - ESPN).
In the Western Conference, Houston and Sporting Kansas City needed extra time with the Dynamo advancing 1-0. Alberth Elis scored the game's only goal in the 94th minute with Tyler Deric making six saves for the clean sheet.
"I don’t know why we can’t keep the ball during the first-half," Houston defender DaMarcus Beasley said. In every game we’ve played, including the last game against Chicago, we’ve just been like that these last couple of games. So it’s something we need to address, something that we will address, but yes it has to be better. We can hurt teams a lot more if we keep the ball a little bit, but we haven’t been able to do that, and I don’t know why.... I’m sure we will have a good discussion on Saturday what we didn’t do, what we need to improve on, and get ready for the Portland Timbers on Monday."
That Western Conference semifinal series against Portland starts Monday in Houston (9:30pm ET - FS1).