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Cucho Hernández scores 2 goals to help Crew beat Atlanta United 2-0 in MLS playoffs

Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernández, right, and Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson, left, get tangled up as they fight for the ball.
Sue Ogrocki
/
AP
Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernández, right, and Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson, left, get tangled up in the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Cucho Hernández scored two goals to reach 18 on the season and No. 3 seed Columbus Crew beat sixth-seeded Atlanta United 2-0 on Wednesday night in the MLS playoffs.

Columbus (17-9-9) plays at Atlanta (13-10-12) on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.

Columbus is unbeaten in 16 straight home matches in all competitions, with 12 wins. The Crew have won seven of their last eight home playoff matches, with a draw, including six straight.

Atlanta has only won four of its last 35 away matches in all competitions, with 18 losses, dating to 2022.

Hernández scored his first goal in first-half stoppage time. After an Atlanta turnover, Diego Rossi started a counterattack by sending a long pass to the Hernández, who beat his defender to send a shot inside the near post.

Hernández, who was 5 for 5 from the penalty spot during the regular season, converted a penalty kick in the 51st minute to give Columbus multiple goals in a match for a league-high 22nd time this season.

Atlanta was without Thiago Almada, who led the MLS with 19 assists this season, after he was sent off on Decision Day.