Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes scored and Zack Steffen made five saves to lead Columbus Crew SC matches Atlanta United, 2-0, at stormy Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.
The match had a 55-minute weather delay at the 30-minute of the first half. The game was played in a downpour and the ball often came to a stop as the players splashed through the puddles. The temperature was in the low 40s at the end.
The Crew (3-1-1) won for the first time in five tries all-time vs. the defending MLS champions (0-2-2)
Santos scored his first goal since March 24, 2018, to put the Crew ahead 1-0 in the second minute.
Wil Trapp passed to Artur down the right flank. He sent a cross to the middle of the box intended for Zardes but the ball deflected off Atlanta's Miles Robinson defender and skipped on the wet surface to Santos for his second MLS goal in 44 career matches.
It was the first time the Crew had scored at home in three matches vs. Atlanta and the first time they led the series
Steffen made a reactionary left-handed save on a header by Julian Gressel in the 24th minute and 11 minutes later stretched to his right to deny and Ezequiel Barco attempt from the top of the goal box
The save was key because in the 39th minute Zardes extended the lead to 2-0 with his third goal in three games. He took a service from Robinho at the penalty spot. Even though he was surrounded by three Atlanta players quickly got off a left-footed shot.
Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan stopped at Federico Higuain penalty in the 58th minute to keep United alive.
The Crew is 8-0- 2 at home since losing 2-0 to Atlanta on June 13, 2018.
Columbus hosts New England on April 6. Atlanta's next MLS match is April 13 at New England.