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

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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.

More disappointment in cards for Union in shutout loss at FC Dallas

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More disappointment in cards for Union in shutout loss at FC Dallas

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FRISCO, Texas — Mauro Diaz and Maximiliano Urruti scored and FC Dallas remained one of the two unbeaten teams in MLS with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Diaz opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 64th minute. Dallas' Matt Hedges drew the penalty, trying to connect with Diaz's corner and getting pulled down from behind by defender Auston Trusty at the top of the 6-yard box.

FC Dallas (3-0-3) made it 2-0 in the 74th minute when Roland Lamah played a through ball up the left side to Urruti, who slipped around goalkeeper Andre Blake with his first touch and slotted home the finish from a narrow angle.

The Union extended their winless streak to five and dropped to 1-3-2.

Union dealing with all sorts of frustration after another home loss

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Union dealing with all sorts of frustration after another home loss

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CHESTER, Pa. — With four of their first five matches at home, the Union had an opportunity to get their season off to a positive start. But with a 1-2-2 record, capped off by a 2-0 loss to Orlando City on Friday night at Talen Energy Stadium, the Union are wondering what went wrong (see observations).

“I didn’t get the job done,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I take responsibility for the group. I know we have a really strong team. We’ve played good soccer at home, we just need to bury those chances.”

The poor results haven’t come from a lack of effort. The Union have outshot opponents, 87-48, this season, and are currently fifth in MLS in possession at 54.3 percent. But like Curtin said, it’s been about the finish. They’ve been outscored, 6-3, this season and are averaging just over a half goal per game.    

“The ball is not bouncing our way right now, it’s not going in the net,” Curtin said. “And with that, confidence drops. I understand the frustration from the fans. The players are frustrated, I’m frustrated and it’s difficult. We need to stick together in the hardest moments.“

According to midfielder Haris Medunjanin, the Union are pressing too hard to score. He said on Friday after the loss that the team was off in every facet, and that the lack of offense isn’t bad luck, but a patience issue.

“We need to keep the ball more,” he said of the midfielders. “We want to attack every attack and that’s not possible. You can’t attack every attack. That was our problem today. We were not patient, we attacked too quick. I think we need to learn from that and play as a team.” 

His frustration was palpable. 

“It’s about scoring goals,” he said. “If you have just one chance and you score a goal and it’s 1-0, it’s enough. It’s about winning games. It’s not about how many chances you create, it’s about scoring goals.”

Between David Accam, Borek Dockal, Fafa Picault and C.J. Sapong, the Union should have enough firepower to find the net. And though it’s not connecting right now, Curtin is confident his team will find that scoring groove. It just has to relax.

“We have quality attackers and they all want to contribute and help,” Curtin said. “Maybe sometimes they press and try to do too much. We have to find the balance. When our team is at its best, it’s Haris and (Alejandro) Bedoya controlling the tempo of the game. Right now, it isn’t clicking. At the same time, I know we have the possibility to break out.”