ATLANTA (AP-CP) — Thiago Almada had a goal and two assists and Atlanta United wrapped up a spot in the post-season with a 4-1 victory over CF Montreal on Saturday night.
Xande Silva picked up his second goal in his seventh appearance for Atlanta United (13-8-10), using an assist from Saba Lobjanidze and Giorgos Giakoumakis in the 30th minute for a 1-0 lead. Silva added an assist three minutes later on Almada's 10th goal of the campaign for a 2-0 lead.
Montreal (11-15-4) pulled within a goal at halftime when Ahmed Hamdi took a pass from Lassi Lappalainen in the 40th minute and found the net for the first time this season. It was Hamdi's first goal for Montreal since scoring twice in his 2021 rookie season.
"At 2-0, we really weren't in the game and (then we) came back with the goal," said Montreal captain Samuel Piette. "We had some good moments offensively in the first half when we were able to isolate Lassi (Lappalainen) on the left and Zachary (Brault-Guillard) and let them do their one-on-ones. We created some half-chances, including the goal.
"So, at 2-1, yes, you go into the dressing room and you're still in the game, but you can feel that you're in trouble and that third goal quickly knocked the wind out of us. So, it's unfortunate."
Atlanta United regained a two-goal lead in the first minute of the second half on an unassisted netter by Giakoumakis — his 15th score of the season to tie for the league lead. Almada snagged a second assist in the 89th minute on Edwin Mosquera's second goal of the campaign.
After the match, Montreal head coach Hernan Losada singled out the poor start to the second half.
"It's a shame that we started the second half badly, to be honest, because the message at halftime was to stay focused and stay in the game until the end, because we know that Atlanta gives you opportunities to score," he said. "They concede a lot of goals, they score a lot of goals too, but it's a shame that the third goal came at the start of the second half."
Brad Guzan finished with two saves for Atlanta United. Jonathan Sirois saved four shots for Montreal.
Montreal falls to 2-11-2 on the road this season. The club is currently in eighth place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference with four games remaining this season.
"The mood remains positive even after this loss," said midfielder Mathieu Choiniere. "We know we've got four games left, and our fate is in our own hands. So, we're going to stay positive."
Atlanta is unbeaten in six home matches against Montreal, 5-0-1. The club won back-to-back matches at home for just the second time this season.
Montreal travels to play Orlando City on Saturday. Atlanta United travels to play the Philadelphia Union on Oct. 4.
"We're coming off a series of games, a difficult stadium, a difficult surface. Now it's a question of recharging our batteries to get to Orlando," said Losada. "Four (games remaining), everything is possible and everything is in our hands."
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The Associated Press