Currently in the course of the playoffs, Atlanta United have six video games left to be certain that they don’t miss the post-season for the second marketing campaign in a row.
Fortunately for the Five Stripes, the Eastern Conference is extremely shut, with simply 10 factors separating Nashville in second place with the Red Bulls in ninth. Atlanta itself is only one level behind CF Montreal, NYCFC and DC United within the three locations above them.
Also, this can be a fully totally different crew now underneath Gonzalo Pineda – credit score to Rob Valentino right here too – with some actually thrilling, attacking soccer being performed a lot as a rule.
With all that mentioned, what can we count on from Atlanta United’s final six video games? Let’s strive to foretell the outcomes and challenge their complete closing rating, which is at the moment 39.
Toronto FC is doing properly / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Just just a few weeks in the past, this match would have been seen as pretty easy for Atlanta with Toronto lately taking final place within the East. But then the Reds went and put an undefeated race in 4 video games collectively in MLS, received three and drew as soon as.
Sure, two of their three wins have come towards the low-key Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati, however a win over Nashville SC and a draw with the Colorado Rapids are spectacular outcomes.
Interim supervisor Javier Perez appears to have curbed the circulation defensively, with TFC conceding greater than as soon as on only one event over the four-legged stretch. They additionally rating once more and discover the online six occasions of their final two matches.
Yeferson Soteldo has one purpose and three assists in his final 4 video games and will show to be an actual handful, whereas it would be attention-grabbing to see how the ATL entrance line manages on a chilly evening in Canada, particularly if Josef Martinez has not recovered from a downside with hoarding.
Estimated rating line: Toronto FC 1-1 Atlanta United
NYCFC is on a unhealthy race / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Conversely, this dwelling sport towards the NYCFC appears to be like extra engaging than it could have been a month in the past. Ronny Deila’s males have gone all the way down to sixth place within the East, with their solely victory of their final eight matches coming towards FC Cincinnati.
They nonetheless make a first rate quantity – as they need to with Taty Castellanos and Maxi Moralez on the facet – however the NYCFC has began to leak targets.
Their solely clear sheet over the eight-game relegation got here a 0-0 draw towards Nashville final trip. To make issues worse, Anton Tinnerholm left that match with an deserted ACL and left an enormous hole on the fitting again.
Atlanta has a fairly terrible report away on the NYCFC, with its solely win in 5 visits coming in the primary leg of their playoffs within the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference 2018.
But even given the lengthy journey to New York, Atlanta has defensive alternatives to close down essentially the most threatening elements of the NYCFC. And with Tinnerholm out, it is onerous to see that Ezequiel Barco, Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno usually are not inflicting chaos, no matter Martinez’s standing.
Estimated rating line: NYCFC 1-2 Atlanta United
Phil Neville is a person underneath stress / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been an extended time since Inter Miami’s mini-revival ended and over the previous month, Phil Neville’s males have been in full swing.
The Five Stripes have already taken 4 factors from the Herons this season, beating them 1-0 as late as September 29, with Josef Martinez scoring his one centesimal purpose for the membership.
There is little to recommend that historical past is not going to repeat itself right here, so long as Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes and co maintain the lid on Gonzalo Higuain, who nonetheless has the odd magical second in his closet. Home benefits tip the scales much more in United’s favor, particularly contemplating that Miami’s playoffs will hopefully be mathematically over then.
Estimated rating line: Atlanta United 3-0 Inter Miami
Atlanta has already overwhelmed TFC this season / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Unlike the journey to BMO Field, it ought to be a a lot simpler job to fulfill Toronto at “Benz”. Atlanta United have misplaced simply three of their 14 dwelling video games thus far, whereas TFC have solely taken eight factors alongside the way in which. FC Cincinnati’s 4 is the one worse report within the East.
Aside from Atlanta’s 1-0 dwelling win over TFC earlier this season, it is important to do not forget that Toronto has injured the Five Stripes by itself patch earlier. The reminiscence of the closing of the Eastern Conference 2019 nonetheless hurts.
But it was Greg Vanney’s Toronto who, though not too totally different in workers, was a rather more cohesive and assured unit. Again, the dwelling benefit will get it completed. Atlanta has simply an excessive amount of in assault for the joint worst protection within the MLS.
Estimated rating line: Atlanta United 2-0 Toronto FC
There is not any love misplaced between the 2 sides / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
This match can have misplaced its luster a bit recently, however Atlanta United and the Red Bulls nonetheless have an actual contempt for one another. The proven fact that the Five Stripes have managed only one 11-win victory over their rivals is actually powerful. The unhealthy report can proceed right here.
Where the NYCFC has fallen off a cliff, their Hudson River derby opponents have rediscovered their mojo, gone six undefeated and picked up 14 factors to retreat to the playoffs.
Patryk Klimala has proved to be a sensible addition to the entrance line, whereas Sean Nealis has been a rock in the guts of the protection. Gerhard Struber has additionally helped Omir Fernandez emerge from the shadow of Caden Clark, with some dynamic midfield performances.
Red Bull Arena isn’t even what it as soon as was, however Five Stripes can nonetheless struggle there once more.
Estimated rating line: New York Red Bulls 2-0 Atlanta United
Fans have remained loyal regardless of combating in the sphere / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY
Given how scorching the Eastern Conference is right away, it could not be stunning in any respect if the playoffs go all the way down to Decision Day. You would additionally wager Atlanta could also be one in every of a bunch of web sites chasing a spot within the low season then.
Is there a greater crew within the league to face than FC Cincinnati underneath these circumstances?
Sure, Cincy continues to fill TQL Stadium and their followers deserve big credit score. But the product they’re served on the pitch is actually terrible.
Lucho Acosta has pulled a rock on a hill along with his performances, whereas Brenner appears to be like like he might be striker at this degree at the fitting time. Beyond that, Cincinnati is uninspiring.
At the time of writing, Orange and Blue are holding a dropping streak in six video games that started with a 4-0 hammering within the arms of Atlanta United.
It’s onerous to see this line of factors being repeated, however when Cincinnati’s season is already over and one other picket spoon is probably within the financial institution, they might present beneficiant final – day opponents.
Estimated rating line: FC Cincinnati 0-2 Atlanta United
There is plenty of water to go underneath the bridge between now and the tip of the season and predicting one thing in MLS is nearly unimaginable.
If the above projection comes true, you’ll help the 52 factors it would go away Atlanta United on to be sufficient to get them into the playoffs. The final time an Eastern Conference facet missed out on that rating was again in 2012 when solely 5 groups per convention made the postseason.