October is here, and with it comes the final two matches of Atlanta United’s 2022 season - unless. Even despite everything - most of it bad - that’s happened in the past seven months, the Five Stripes still have an outside shot at a playoff spot but it’s going to take all six points and then some. Gonzalo Pineda and Co. have two chances to steal a postseason berth, starting with a visit to the New England Revolution Saturday afternoon.
Like Atlanta, New England’s season is on its last legs and anything less than two wins from two will spell a premature end to the reigning Supporters Shield champions. The Revs have learned the hard way that being a selling club is no easy feat - losing three key starters proved enough to send Bruce Arena’s side from breaking the single-season points record to just about missing out on the playoffs entirely. Adam Buksa, Tajan Buchanon, and Matt Turner have all made the jump to Europe while New England’s transfer strategy of signing Arena’s old friends proved a few years too late - of its three major winter signings, Sebastian Lletget (FC Dallas) and Jozy Altidore (Puebla) have already moved on and Omar Gonzalez has shown his age. Summer arrivals Djordje Petrovic and Dylan Borrero have shown promise but they’ve been too late to make a difference.
New England’s decline has been a team-wide occurrence. It went from tallying the best attack and sixth-best defense in 2021 to 8th in both rankings in 2022. The games the Revs were so comfortable winning 1-0 or 2-1 have now turned into 1-1s or 0-1 losses. Striker Adam Buksa, who left back in June, remains atop the Revs scoring charts with 7 goals; DP signing Giacomo Vrioni from Juventus is yet to open his account. Though Carles Gil (7g, 8a) and Gustavo Bou (7g, 2a) have caused problems, frequent injuries mean they haven’t been at their best either.
The Five Stripes’ 0-0 draw against Philadelphia before the international break had the performance Atlanta wanted but not the three points it needed desperately at this stage of the season. Luckily results around the league kept Atlanta’s chances alive for now, and the good guys are still two points and two teams (both of which have a game in hand) short of the redline.
Predicted Starting XIs
McBlunder’s Prediction: New England Revolution 1-2 Atlanta United
Atlanta will keep its season alive for at least one more week with goals from Almada and Dwyer, officially eliminating New England.