Heading into Week 22, Atlanta United found themselves needing to take care of business to keep their Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoff hopes alive.
The Five Stripes did just that on Sunday night, knocking off FC Cincinnati2-0 at home and they also received other favorable results, seeing direct playoff competitors D.C. United, Montreal Impact and Inter Miami CF all lose. They’re now one spot behind the Eastern Conference’s 10th and final postseason berth, setting up a do-or-die match Nov. 8 at Columbus Crew SC on Decision Day presented by AT&T (3:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info).
As is required this time of year, ATLUTD winger Jurgen Damm kept a watchful eye on how results around the league were unfolding. It also led to a declaration of sorts given they won MLS Cup in 2018 and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first in four attempts.
“Yes, we were watching here in the locker room, the other games,” Damm said. “It was very good because a lot of the results were good for us, so it all depends on us. If we do a good game in Columbus, we win three points, we're in playoffs, so it's going to be a crucial week for us. Hopefully we can do a great game and be in playoffs because this team must be in playoffs. It's a big club and hopefully we can reach the playoffs.”
Highlights: Atlanta United 2, FC Cincinnati 0
As for interim head coach Stephen Glass, he feels Atlanta United could make some noise if they reach the postseason. The Montreal Impact (9th place, one game remaining) and Chicago Fire FC (10th place, two games remaining) are currently above them, and points per game will be used to determine the final seedings.
Adding another layer to Atlanta’s scenario is how the Crew are still in contention for the Supporters’ Shield. Don’t expect to see Caleb Porter’s side sitting back, but rather vying for silverware and one of the East's top seeds.
“We could've been better at times, of course we could, but I do feel like if we get in the playoffs we've got an opportunity to do something,” Glass said. “... But a lot of people wrote us off, they've done it all year. I've got a group of players in there that have been working really, really hard and I'm hopeful it turns. If it turns at the right time and we get some little breaks, you just never know.”
Still, it might be too little too late from Atlanta. The win over FC Cincinnati snapped a three-game losing streak and six-game unbeaten skid, so they’ve let points slip down the stretch. Now, unlike past years when they were fighting for the Shield or seeding late on, Atlanta find themselves in a sticky spot – albeit one that got a boost Sunday night.
“It gives us a good chance Sunday to get a win against Columbus,” said forward Adam Jahn, who scored in the 8th minute. “So that's all you can ask for at this point and we'll be ready for it."