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Castellanos, Callens lift NYC FC past Atlanta United, 2-0

November 21, 2021 GMT
Atlanta United defender Alan Franco, front, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) battle for the ball against New York City FC's Valentín Castellanos (not shown) during the first half of an MLS soccer match at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
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Atlanta United defender Alan Franco, front, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) battle for the ball against New York City FC's Valentín Castellanos (not shown) during the first half of an MLS soccer match at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
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Atlanta United defender Alan Franco, front, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) battle for the ball against New York City FC's Valentín Castellanos (not shown) during the first half of an MLS soccer match at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

NEW YORK (AP) — Golden Boot winner Valentín Castellanos and Alexander Callens scored less than four minutes apart early in the second half and New York City FC beat Atlanta United 2-0 on Sunday in the first round of the MLS playoffs.

Fourth-seeded NYCFC will play at Supporters Shield winner New England on Nov. 30. NYCFC has made the Eastern Conference semifinals five times in six seasons, but never advance farther. Atlanta was seeded fifth.

Castellanos, who had 19 goals during the regular season, was left alone on the back of the defense as NYCFC had a set piece start at the end line. Maximiliano Moralez centered the ball and Castellanos got his foot on it and put a high bouncer into the goal in the 49th minute.

Minutes later, NYCFC put a ball on frame off a corner but Atlanta goalkeeper Bradley Guzman got a hand on it, deflecting it off the crossbar. Callens was alone to head the ball into the open net.

Sean Johnson, who had nine shutouts in the regular season, made four saves for his second career playoff shutout.

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