A couple of 1-0 losses since MLS’s restart has knocked Atlanta off its perch—the reality fans feared in the absence of Josef Martinez. The solid start to the season, which saw the Five Stripes go top of the East after two games, is now a distant memory.
Atlanta are still eligible to advance in the MLS is Back tournament if results go their way, but taking a step back, the side should consider league standings and the importance of three points from its final group game. Despite the underwhelming showing in the tournament, Atlanta are still in a good position in the Eastern Conference in what will be a drastically shortened season. But because each game in 2020 carries roughly double the normal value, that comfort can quickly change.
The latest Eastern Conference matchup saw D.C. United draw 1-1 with New England Friday night. That result brought both sides to five points, one point behind sixth place Atlanta. The Five Stripes are holding on to a playoff spot and need to go into their final game with Columbus eager for a positive result.
A draw against a very strong Columbus side, who are now first in the East at time of writing, would be seen as a good result but would eliminate Atlanta from the tournament. A victory against the Crew could see Atlanta potentially advance to the next round if other results go their way and will strengthen their position in league standings. Atlanta are currently three points off of second place, but are also just three points above 11th place FC Cincinnati.