Atlanta United isn’t done yet.

Goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis, Xande Silva, Edwin Mosquera and Thiago Almada carried Atlanta United to a 4-2 victory over Columbus in Game 2 of the MLS playoff series on Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of an announced attendance of 41,850. Giakoumakis also had two assists to become the first player in franchise history to have three goal contributions in a playoff match, showing why he was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year last week.

“It was a very complete game,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said.

It was Atlanta United’s first playoff win since 2019 in a performance that was much improved from its 2-0 loss in Game 1 in which it took just one shot. It took 14 in Game 2, putting seven on target.

Now, it must figure how to get a result in Columbus, where it has been outscored 8-1 this season and taken just three shots in the two matches, to keep alive its season. The deciding Game 3 is scheduled to be at 7 p.m. Sunday at Lower.com Field in Ohio.

“Tonight, this mentality, that relentlessness, the desire to chase balls down when the ball is higher up the field ... ,“ captain Brad Guzan said. “I was joking with GG, like, should he have had more tonight? Hopefully save some for Sunday. And you know, we’ll go again.”

Pineda, who expressed confidence on Monday that his team would play with energy, fielded his strongest lineup: striker Giakoumakis, attacking midfielder Almada, who missed the first game because of a red card suspension, wingers Saba Lobjanidze and Silva, midfielders Tristan Muyumba and Matheus Rossetto, wingbacks Caleb Wiley and Brooks Lennon, centerbacks Miles Robinson and Luis Abram, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Pineda also switched the formation from a 5-3-2 back to a 4-3-3 that was used most of the season. It was the same lineup and formation against the same opponent that a few weeks ago in another must-win game failed to score until the final minute of a 1-1 draw. The tie prevented Atlanta United from having any chance of finishing in the top four and set the stage for the one playoff matchup it didn’t want.

This time, Atlanta United kept control throughout.

“I trust the process that we have here,” Pineda said. “And I knew the process was good. I knew that players were coming in strong mentally. And I saw that in their eyes. I saw that in the reactions. I saw that in the training session. So I was confident yesterday.”

Neither team could find a footing through the first 30 minutes.

Atlanta United struck first when Giakoumakis cut in front of two Columbus centerbacks with a run from the back post to head a cross from Lennon off the right post and in to give his team a 1-0 lead. The cross was set up by some quick passing and moving by Atlanta United’s players on the right, with Rossetto playing the ball into space near the touchline. Pineda said on Monday that moving the ball more quickly was one of the things missing during Game 1. The goal came on Atlanta United’s sixth shot. It took just one shot, a franchise low, in Game 1.

But as has been the case many times this season, Atlanta United quickly gave up a goal. Cucho Hernandez, who scored both of Columbus’ goals in Game 1, received the ball just inside the 18-yard box, spun to his right and fired a shot into the lower left corner in the 45th minute. It marked the sixth time this season that an opponent scored within seven minutes of the Five Stripes’ scoring. The scoring sequence started with a giveaway by Silva in Atlanta United’s defensive third of the field.

Silva made up for his mistake by popping a right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 7 yards to give Atlanta United a 2-1 lead in first-half stoppage time. He was played in by Giakoumakis, who became the third player in team history to have a goal and an assist in a playoff match. The other two were Franco Escobar and Julian Gressel, who started Tuesday for Columbus. After Silva scored, he ran over to the sideline to don a Spider-Man mask.

“My son loves Spider-Man,” Silva said of his 2-year-old, who is also named Xande. “So it was for him. He was watching the game at home.”

Rossetto left the game with an unspecified injury in the 56th minute. He was replaced by Jay Fortune.

Atlanta United had a chance to put away the game in the 60th minute but Silva missed an open goal from almost point-blank after Giakoumakis selflessly crossed the ball to him after luring Patrick Schulte out of his goal. “Great Caeser’s Ghost” was the reaction in the stadium and on social media to the shocking miss.

“It’s part of the game, we score, you miss and just forget about it,” Silva said.

Columbus had a claim for a penalty kick rejected by referee Chris Penso in the 73rd minute when Lobjanidze appeared to trip Yaw Yeboah.

Tyler Wolff and Edwin Mosquera came on for Silva and Lobjanidze in the 80th minute to freshen the attack.

Mosquera immediately began attacking, finishing a 1-2 with Giakoumakis with a left-footed shot into the upper left corner in the 83rd minute to give Atlanta United a 3-1 lead.

Almada scored the capper in the 88th minute by chipping Schulte. Wiley was credited with the assist.

“The first game at Columbus we don’t show our quality, we don’t show the face of this team,” Muyumba said. “So now today we play well and we show the real face of this team.”

Columbus’ second was scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time by Max Arftsen.

Pineda said there are things that must be cleaned up. He described Columbus’ first goal as a bit soft. He said there were errors defending the set piece on Columbus’ second goal.

But Atlanta United isn’t done yet.

“We said after game one, we said round one,” Guzan said. “We took it on the chin. Round two we came in and we said right, we’re going forward here. Our backs are against the wall. We got to go for it. And so that was round two. It’s all to play for in round three.”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2

Sept. 16 Atlanta United 5, Inter Miami 2

Sept. 20 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 1

Sept. 23 Atlanta United 4, Montreal 1

Oct. 4 Philadelphia 3, Atlanta United 2

Oct. 7 Atlanta United 1, Columbus 1

Oct. 21 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Nov. 1 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 0

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