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Atlanta United to play NYCFC in conference semifinals

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The first opponent is now known.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at New York City FC Chris Bergmann-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United have learned who they’ll be facing first in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. New York City FC is the opponent to be put in front of the Five Stripes in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7:30 Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

This match-up was confirmed when the Pigeons beat Philadelphia Union in their opening knockout round game on Wednesday night. With the Red Bulls being the first seed, they are guaranteed to play the lowest remaining seed in the conference. No. 3 seed NYCFC advancing means that No. 4 and No. 5 playing each other has no bearing on who Atlanta United would face. In Thursday’s knockout round game, Columbus Crew SC advanced on penalties for the second year in a row as it claimed D.C. United as its latest victim.

Atlanta and NYCFC met two times in the regular season with both matches ending in a draw and both times the home side enjoying the better of the play. In the match at Yankee Stadium, Atlanta got out to an early second half lead before conceding and then holding on for dear life for a point. In the earlier match in Atlanta, both sides exchanged goals twice with Alexander Ring’s stunning outside of the box strike earning the Citizens a point despite being outplayed.

Atlanta will travel to Yankee Stadium on Sunday for the first leg, with the deciding return leg coming back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium the following Sunday.