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Atlanta United clinches MLS playoff spot

Atlanta United earned a spot in the MLS playoffs because of results in last week’s games.

The Five Stripes, who were off as were all but seven of the league’s teams, secured one of the six playoff spots in the Eastern Conference after D.C. United and NYCFC tied, 1-1.

It is the second consecutive season that Atlanta United will appear in the playoffs. It was knocked out of last year’s first round by Columbus.

» More: Arthur Blank on Atlanta United’s playoffs hopes

This season, Atlanta United is second in points (54) in the East. It trails New York Red Bulls by one point for the top spot as well as the Supporters’ Shield, but has played one less game.  The team will return to action on Saturday when it plays at Colorado (24 points). It is the first of three games in eight days. The stretch includes a game at San Jose (20 points) on Sept. 19, followed by hosting Real Salt Lake (44 points) on Sept. 22. Of the three, just Real Salt Lake is above the red line signifying a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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Here is the playoff table in the East:

Team, current points, total points possible after remaining games, number of wins, maximum number of wins possible*:

1. New York Red Bulls, 55, 73, 17, 23

2. Atlanta United, 54, 75, 16, 23

3. NYCFC, 49, 64, 14, 19

4. Columbus, 43, 64, 12, 19

5. Philadelphia, 40, 61, 12, 19

6. Montreal, 36, 54, 11, 17

--

7. New England, 33, 54, 8, 15

8. D.C. United, 31, 55, 8, 16

9. Toronto, 27, 48, 7, 14

* First tiebreaker

Now, this may make it look like Atlanta United can be pipped by both D.C. United, which can finish with one point, and Montreal, which can finish with the same number of points and one more win. However, the  two teams will play each other on Sept. 29, so both can’t get the maximum number of points. New England and Montreal will also play each other in the season’s final week.

Clinching a spot has been a foregone conclusion for Atlanta United, which has been in first in the East for most of the season. The priority for the team is securing one of the top two spots, which comes with a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

The MLS Cup will be played at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8. The playoffs will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 29.

Eastern and Western Conference knockout round

 Oct. 31, times TBD.

Eastern and Western Conference semifinals

Nov. 4, first leg, times TBD.

 Nov. 11, second leg, times TBD.

Eastern and Western Conference championships

Nov. 25, first leg, times TBD.

Nov. 29, second leg, times TBD.

MLS Cup

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.

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