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., Lower.com Field
Match 2: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Match 3 (if necessary): Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Lower.com Field
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.
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.