At the moment under the playoff line, Atlanta United have six video games left to make sure they do not miss out on the post-season for the second marketing campaign in a row.
Fortunately for the 5 Stripes, the Japanese Convention is extremely shut, with simply 10 factors separating Nashville in second with the Pink Bulls down in ninth. Atlanta themselves are solely a single level adrift of CF Montreal, NYCFC, and DC United within the three spots above them.
What’s extra, this can be a completely totally different workforce now underneath Gonzalo Pineda – credit score to Rob Valentino right here as properly – with some genuinely thrilling, attacking soccer being performed far as a rule.
With all of that mentioned, what can we anticipate from Atlanta United’s remaining six video games? Let’s attempt to predict the outcomes and undertaking their remaining factors complete, which at the moment stands at 39.
Just some weeks in the past, this fixture would have been seen as fairly easy for Atlanta with Toronto not too long ago occupying final place within the East. However then the Reds went and put a four-game unbeaten run collectively in MLS, profitable three and drawing as soon as.
Positive, two of their three wins have come towards lowly Chicago Hearth and FC Cincinnati, however a victory over Nashville SC and a draw with the Colorado Rapids are spectacular outcomes.
Interim boss Javier Perez appears to have stemmed the circulate defensively, with TFC conceding greater than as soon as on only one event throughout that four-game stretch. They’re additionally scoring once more, discovering the online six occasions of their final two video games.
Yeferson Soteldo has a purpose and three assists in his final 4 video games and will show an actual handful, whereas it will be fascinating to see how the ATL ahead line copes on a chilly night time in Canada, particularly if Josef Martinez is not recovered from a hamstring drawback.
Predicted scoreline: Toronto FC 1-1 Atlanta United
Conversely, this house tie towards NYCFC now appears to be like extra interesting than it might have carried out a month in the past. Ronny Deila’s males have slipped right down to sixth within the East, with their solely win throughout their final eight video games coming towards FC Cincinnati.
They’re nonetheless scoring a good quantity – as they need to with the likes of Taty Castellanos and Maxi Moralez within the facet – however NYCFC have began leaking targets.
Their solely clear sheet throughout that eight-game stoop got here in a 0-0 draw towards Nashville final outing. To make issues worse, Anton Tinnerholm went out of that sport with a busted ACL, leaving an enormous hole at right-back.
Atlanta have a reasonably horrible document away at NYCFC, with their solely victory in 5 visits coming within the first leg of their 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Japanese Convention remaining conflict.
However, even taking into account the lengthy journey to New York, Atlanta have the defensive capabilities to close down NYCFC’s most threatening items. And with Tinnerholm out, it is exhausting to see the likes of Ezequiel Barco, Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno not inflicting havoc, no matter Martinez’s standing.
Predicted scoreline: NYCFC 1-2 Atlanta United
It has been a very long time since Inter Miami’s mini-revival got here to an finish and throughout the final month, Phil Neville’s males have been in an entire tailspin.
The 5 Stripes have already taken 4 factors from the Herons this season, beating them 1-0 as not too long ago as 29 September, with Josef Martinez grabbing his a hundredth purpose for the membership.
There’s little to recommend historical past will not repeat itself right here, so long as Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes and co preserve a lid on Gonzalo Higuain, who nonetheless has the odd second of magic in his locker. Residence benefit ideas the scales even additional in United’s favour, particularly contemplating Miami’s playoff hopes will doubtless be mathematically over by then.
Predicted scoreline: Atlanta United 3-0 Inter Miami
In contrast to the journey to BMO Discipline, going through Toronto on the ‘Benz’ must be a far easier activity. Atlanta United have misplaced simply three of their 14 house video games to date, whereas TFC have solely picked up eight factors on the street. FC Cincinnati’s 4 is the one worse document within the East.
Taking apart Atlanta’s 1-0 house win over TFC earlier this season, it is essential to recollect Toronto have harm the 5 Stripes on their very own patch earlier than. The reminiscence of the 2019 Japanese Convention remaining nonetheless hurts.
However that was Greg Vanney’s Toronto who, although not too totally different in personel, have been a much more cohesive and assured unit. Once more, house benefit will get it carried out. Atlanta simply have an excessive amount of in assault for the joint-worst defence in MLS.
Predicted scoreline: Atlanta United 2-0 Toronto FC
This fixture might have misplaced its shine slightly in current occasions, however Atlanta United and the Pink Bulls nonetheless have an actual disdain for one another. The actual fact the 5 Stripes have managed only one win in 11 towards their rivals grates actually exhausting. That poor document would possibly proceed right here.
The place NYCFC have fallen off a cliff, their Hudson River derby adversaries have rediscovered their mojo, going six unbeaten and selecting up 14 factors to tug themselves again into the playoff race.
Patryk Klimala has confirmed an astute addition to the ahead line, whereas Sean Nealis has been a rock on the coronary heart of the defence. Gerhard Struber has additionally helped Omir Fernandez emerge from the shadows of Caden Clark, placing in some dynamic performances in midfield.
Pink Bull Area is not even what it as soon as was, however the 5 Stripes may wrestle there once more, nonetheless.
Predicted scoreline: New York Pink Bulls 2-0 Atlanta United
Given how a lot of a scorching mess the Japanese Convention is correct now, it would not be stunning in any respect if the playoff race goes right down to Resolution Day. You’d additionally wager Atlanta might be one in every of a clutch of sides looking down a spot within the post-season by then.
Is there a greater workforce within the league to face than FC Cincinnati underneath these circumstances?
Positive, Cincy carry on filling TQL Stadium and their followers deserve enormous credit score. However the product they’re served on the pitch is actually terrible.
Lucho Acosta has been dragging a boulder up a hill along with his performances, whereas Brenner appears to be like like he may be striker at this stage in the precise time. Past that, Cincinnati are uninspiring.
On the time of writing, the Orange and Blue are enduring a six-game shedding run that began with a 4-0 hammering by the hands of Atlanta United.
It is exhausting to see that scoreline being repeated, however with Cincinnati’s season already over and one other Picket Spoon doubtless within the financial institution, they may properly show beneficiant final-day opponents.
Predicted scoreline: FC Cincinnati 0-2 Atlanta United
There’s lots of water to cross underneath the bridge between now and the tip of the season and predicting something in MLS is virtually not possible.
If the above projection does come to cross, you’d again the 52 factors it’d depart Atlanta United on to be sufficient to get them into the playoffs. The final time an Japanese Convention facet missed out with that factors complete was again in 2012 when solely 5 groups per convention made the post-season.