Group E had some top talent from the eastern conference. While the anticipation ramped up and the matches were played it was clear some teams were ready for this competition and others were not. Who made it out of the group and who are on their way home?
Columbus Crew SC: 9 Points
Columbus Crew are one of the talented teams that were ready for this competition. They won all of their matches in dominating fashion. They are the only eastern conference team in the MLS is Back Tournament to win all three games. They posted a goal differential of seven and did not get scored on once. Caleb Porter has his team playing as a unit; they are strong in possession and have absolute ballers to create and score goals.
As the Crew move to the knockout rounds, they will be seen as one of the favorites to win the whole damn thing.
FC Cincinnati: 6 Points
Surprise! The team that was the worst in 2019, FC Cincinnati is through to the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament. They started their tournament falling to their rivals the Crew 4-0. After that match, they were determined to defend first and attack on the counter. They did this against an undisciplined Atlanta side and won 1-0, and followed that up by scoring two against the New York Red Bulls
Cincinnati have a clear style of play, but will it be enough to power them past the round of 16 in the knockout round? They’ll have their hands full playing either Portland or LAFC.
New York Red Bulls: 3 Points
New York started their tournament strong against Atlanta; the Red Bulls won 1-0 and looked to be on their way to competing for the top spot in the group. They ran into Columbus next and got bossed in that match. A 2-0 loss, meant they had to beat Cincinnati to make it to the knockout rounds. Whether it was underestimating their opponent or a lack of organization, the Red Bulls looked lost when they took on Cincy and lost 2-0. Their poor run of form knocks them out of contention for a wildcard spot.
The Red Bulls are far from what they were when they were a dominant team. The turnover of players has seemed to stall their progress, and they will now have to wait for the regular season to resume to get another shot of showing us what they are made of.
Atlanta United: 0 Points
Atlanta United are the biggest disappointment in the MLS is Back Tournament. They have been without star striker Josef Martinez since the first match of MLS regular season, yet head coach Frank de Boer could not organize his squad to have a lethal attack. DP playmakers Pity Martínez and Ezequiel Barco could not pick the slack left by Josef Martinez’s injury and were at times non-existent in matches. Atlanta lost 1-0 to the Red Bulls, 1-0 to Cincinnati and 1-0 to Columbus.
This pitiful showing means they finish in last place in their group and are in the cellar of the eastern conference regular-season standings.
On to the Knockout Rounds
Columbus and Cincinnati are the teams moving on from Group E! Columbus knows they will face Minnesota United in their Round of 16 match. Cincinnati will have to wait for the last match of the group stage to be played to see if they take on LAFC or Portland from Group F. Stay tuned for more group reviews to come!
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports