Reigning MLS champion Atlanta United held off a spirited upset bid from the New England Revolution on Saturday, winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Franco Escobar in the 70th minute.
The scoreline was far from the full story. New England, the Eastern Conference’s 7th and last playoff seed, didn’t bunker against No. 2 seed Atlanta’s powerful attack. The Revolution gave as good as they got, equaling Atlanta’s 14 shots and delivering 6 shots on goal to the home team’s 5.
United goalkeeper Brad Guzan had plenty of work to do, including a full-stretch save in the 35th minute of a long-range blast by New England’s Cristian Penilla in the 35th minute.
Atlanta played without starting centerback Miles Robinson, who suffered a hamstring injury at the U.S. men’s national team’s recent training camp; and big-money playmaker Gonzalo Martínez, stunningly left on the bench by coach Frank de Boer. Martínez didn’t even come in as a substitute.
But Escobar made sure it didn’t matter with a terrific finish, smashing a shot into the roof of New England’s net after a nifty through ball from Ezequiel Barco.
Atlanta will host the Union in the second round on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Jonathan Osorio scored twice, Richie Laryea and Nick DeLeon added two more in a four-goal extra-time outburst and Toronto FC beat D.C. United 5-1 on Saturday night in the first round of the playoffs to end Wayne Rooney’s MLS career.
Marky Delgado opened the scoring for Toronto in the 32nd. Lucas Rodriguez tied it for D.C. United in the 93rd minute. Toronto then scored in the 93rd, 95th, 103rd and 105th minutes.
Rooney, 33, is returning to his native England to join second-division team Derby County as a player/coach.
Toronto will face No. 1 seed New York City FC on Wednesday (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes). The game was moved from Yankee Stadium to the Mets’ Citi Field because of the Yankees’ playoff run.
Jefferson Savarino scored in the 87th minute to carry Real Salt Lake past the Portland Timbers amid a snowstorm at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
Damir Kreilach opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a header to finish Corey Baird's diagonal cross.
Dairon Asprilla tied it at 1 for the Timbers in the 47th minute, heading in a corner kick from Sebastián Blanco.
Portland notably did not start star playmaker Diego Valeri, who is embroiled in a dispute with the team about his contract expiring.
Jordan Morris scored in the 113th minute to complete a hat trick in Seattle’s 4-3 extra-time victory at CenturyLink Field.
Twice, the Western Conference No. 2 seed Sounders had the lead, only to see No. 7 seed Dallas come back and tie. Ruidiaz scored in the 18th minute and Morrisin the 22nd to put Seattle in front, 2-0. Ruidiaz’s goal was his 12th and ended a six-game scoring drought. He had not scored since tallying twice in a 4-3 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sept. 1.
Seattle will host Real Salt Lake on Wednesday (10 p.m., Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes).