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First look: Atlanta United to face Columbus Crew in Round One of 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs

It’s the Five Stripes and the Crew to kick off Atlanta’s postseason.

Columbus Crew v New England Revolution

The playoff picture has been set for Atlanta United.

The Five Stripes will take on the Columbus Crew in Round One of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Atlanta played to a 2-2 draw at Supporters’ Shield winners FC Cincinnati despite playing over 40 minutes with 10 men. Columbus, meanwhile, claimed 3rd place in the Eastern Conference after beating CF Montréal 2-1 at home.

(6) Atlanta United (13-9-12, 51 pts.) vs. (3) Columbus Crew (16-9-9, 57 pts.): 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Round One Schedule

Match 1: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., Field

Match 2: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Match 3 (if necessary): Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Field

Three Storylines

Inter Miami CF v Atlanta United Photo by Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/Getty Images

No Thiago Almada for Game 1: This probably is the major story for Atlanta headed into the playoffs: Thiago Almada won’t play in the series opener after (rather foolishly) picking up a pair of yellow cards against FC Cincinnati. The absence of Atlanta’s No. 10 can’t be understated, and it presents a massive selection dilemma for Gonzalo Pineda.

Columbus Crew v New England Revolution

The Cucho factor: Atlanta will be tasked with bottling up Cucho Hernandez, who has continued to prove his value for the Crew (16g/11a). Cucho-Almada was set to be the headline attraction for this series, but that will be delayed for Game 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta looking for 1st win against Crew since 2021: Atlanta went winless in its 2 regular-season contests against the Crew this year (0W-1L-1D). Of course, Atlanta absorbed a 6-1 shellacking with a less-than-first-choice XI on March 25 before rescuing a draw on October 7 through a Miles Robinson stoppage-time header. It hasn’t beaten the Crew since a 3-2 victory at Historic Crew Stadium on August 7, 2021.