Three game losing streak? Two wins in its last fifteen? Still within touching distance of an Eastern Conference playoff spot? Yep, that’s our beloved Atlanta United. Even with a season as dismal as this one has been, a win Sunday against last-placed FC Cincinnati could send the Five Stripes into the 10th and final postseason position with one game to play. And yet, the beckonings of the playoffs don’t seem all that enchanting.
Safe to say, none of the problems that have plagued Atlanta this year could be rectified by a deep post season run. The club will still need a quality coach for next season and beyond and the roster overhaul won’t be any less thorough. By now we have a good idea of who’s worth keeping and who’s not going into 2021. The massive disappointment that this season has been won’t be any less painful because the club finished 10th and not 11th, only to likely immediately exit the playoffs. We have two more matches of Atlanta United soccer that may or may not total a whole 1.0 xG combined. And when the final whistle blows in Columbus on November 3rd, we can look towards the 2021 season knowing that change will be coming in one way or another and that we’ll never have to suffer through this disastrous 2020 season again.
Cincinnati is one of the few teams still below Atlanta and could even be set to repeat as Wooden Spoon winners. Last year defense was the main issue as the Ohio side leaked in a whopping 75 goals in 34 games, an MLS record. This year, it’s most definitely the attack. FC Cincy has scored just 11 goals in 21 matches so far and been shutout 13 times. That dire statistic can largely be attributed to misfiring Designated Players. Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo, who were both brought in over the offseason as part of a major overhaul, have totaled a lowly tally of 5 goals in 36 appearances combined. It’s been bleak in the final third and that’s unsurprisingly translated to results. With just 1 win in its last 8, Cincinnati has fallen to the floor of the Eastern Conference on 16 points, 5 behind the playoff line. Even so, it’s only three points behind Atlanta, so could still pick itself off the floor with two games to go.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Atlanta United 0-0 FC Cincinnati
If the current power outage I’ve experienced since Tropical Storm Zeta Wednesday night continues, one bright spot would be that I can’t watch what is sure to a cracker Sunday evening. Goals are neither of these teams specialties, to say the least. Since I’m afraid predicting an Atlanta win would have the opposite effect after the examination of recent prediction results compared to the on-field happenings, I’ll go with both teams canceling each other out in a scoreless draw.