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Union blanked 3-0 as expansion Atlanta United clinches playoff spot

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ATLANTA -- Rookie Julian Gressel had a goal and assist and expansion Atlanta United clinched a playoff spot, beating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Atlanta (15-8-7) is the first expansion team to make the playoffs since Seattle in 2009.

Gressel scored his fourth goal in the 27th minute and assisted on Josef Martinez's 18th in the 33rd minute. It was Gressel ninth assist, one behind the league record for first-year players. Clint Mathis had 10 for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998.

Atlanta was without Miguel Almiron, who suffered a hamstring injury last weekend. After Martinez scored he ran back to the team sideline at midfield and grabbed Almiron's No. 10 jersey and kissed it. Almiron, who is expected to be out at least three weeks, leads the team with 13 assists and is third with nine goals.

Jacob Peterseon added his third goal in the 88th minute.

Atlanta is 10-0-2 in its last 12 home games, outscoring opponents 38-9.

Brad Guzman had three saves for his sixth shutout. Atlanta posted its fifth shutout in its last six home matches.

New England (9-13-9) is winless in its last 11 road game.