ATLANTA – Atlanta United scored two first-half goals and held on for a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday, setting another Major League Soccer attendance record and securing a spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
But United’s main objective, the Supporters’ Shield for the best regular-season record in MLS, will go down to the final week of the regular season. New York Red Bulls remained one point behind the Five Stripes with a 1-0 victory at Philadelphia.
United improved to 21-6-6 for 69 points, tying the MLS points record set last season by Toronto FC. The Atlanta club will get a chance to break the mark when it faces the Canadian team next Sunday in the regular-season finale.
Atlanta drew its seventh 70,000-plus crowd of the season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, finishing with a total of 901,033 fans for a per-game average of 53,002. That easily eclipsed the mark of 48,200 that was set in its inaugural season.
Atlanta jumped ahead less than 10 minutes into the game on Franco Escobar’s first goal in league play. The Fire finally found the back of the net in the 24th minute on a play that left Atlanta pleading for an offside penalty. Michael de Leeuw wound up all alone in front of the goal with two of his teammates and Guzan didn’t have a chance, watching helplessly as the Fire player slid the ball across the line for his second goal of the season. After a video review, the play was allowed to stand.
Just two minutes later, United regained the lead with an own goal.