Eric Remedi scored his first career MLS goal to lift Atlanta United to a 1-0 victory over host New York City FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night.
Remedi, who signed with No. 2 seed Atlanta in late June and made his debut in July, had one assist in 13 regular-season appearances and registered only one shot in his last seven playing as a holding midfielder. But his goal means United can advance to the first conference final in club history with a draw or win in the second leg at Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Sunday.
Atlanta also welcomed midfielder Miguel Almiron back from a hamstring injury. The Paraguayan, who hadn't played since Oct. 6, started and played the entire first half before giving way to Hector Villalba at the break.
No. 3 seed New York City, meanwhile, need to win and score two or more goals to advance beyond the semifinals. A 1-0 score in favor of NYCFC next Sunday would sent the match to extra time and eventually penalties if still tied.
After scoring three goals each in back-to-back home wins against Philadelphia, the first last Sunday in the final game of the regular season and the second in a knockout- round match, NYCFC failed to put a shot on target against United.
Remedi gave Atlanta the lead in the 37th minute on a goal that developed from a corner kick. Julian Gressel sent an inswinging service toward the penalty spot, where Josef Martinez side volleyed it toward goal. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove to keep Martinez's initial effort out, but Remedi was first to the rebound, poking it over the line after it bounced off the right post.
Atlanta had briefly appeared to have already taken the lead 17 minutes earlier off another corner. But a video review showed Almiron, the eventual scorer on the sequence, had been offside earlier on the buildup to his strike.
New York increased the pressure after halftime, but Atlanta came closest to adding another goal deep in the second half. After Martinez was dispossessed on a dangerous-looking run, the ball fell to Greg Garza, who forced Johnson to push away a well-struck, 20-yard effort heading toward the top right corner.