By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United set a pair of attendance records Sunday but failed to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs when Sebastian Giovinco scored on a brilliant free kick in the 84th minute, giving Toronto FC a 2-2 tie and the most points ever in a Major League Soccer season.
Josef Martinez scored his 17th goal in the 74th minute to put expansion United in position to finish second in the Eastern Conference, which would have been good enough to avoid the single-game knockout round.
But Giovinco, with a set piece from just outside the penalty area, curled a shot over the wall that caught the bottom of the crossbar to deflect past leaping goalkeeper Brad Guzan. It was Giovinco’s 25th goal of the season.
United broke their own MLS single-game attendance record with a crowd of 71,874 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the retractable roof was open on a warm, cloudy day. Atlanta also set a season record with an average of 48,200 a game, eclipsing the mark of 44,247 set two years ago by Seattle.
The tie gave Supporters’ Shield winner Toronto (20-5-9) 69 points on the season, beating the previous MLS mark of 68 set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998.
Atlanta (15-9-10) will host Columbus in the opening round of the playoffs.