Atlanta United faces big three-game road stretch

Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 runs with the ball during the match against D.C. United at Audi Field in Washington, United States on Saturday April 2, 2022. (Photo by Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United)

Credit: Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United

Credit: Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United

Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 runs with the ball during the match against D.C. United at Audi Field in Washington, United States on Saturday April 2, 2022. (Photo by Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United)

There still will be 17 games remaining on the schedule afterward, but Atlanta United faces a pivotal three-game stretch that starts Saturday in Toronto.

After the trip to Canada, the team will play at the Red Bulls and then, three days later, at NYCFC. There are nine valuable points to be won in places where the team has one regular-season win in 13 attempts. This is the team’s longest road stretch this season.

Getting good results not only would lift the team (5-5-4) from ninth in the standings and into the playoff chase, but likely would give it a massive boost of confidence.

Though that may not be needed.

“I think we’re going to get nine points,” centerback George Campbell said. “I think we know if we play well enough. With the squad we have, we’re the better team. But we need to show it and prove it.”

Atlanta United’s task will be more difficult in the first two games because it will play without Thiago Almada. But he will be eligible to return from red-card suspension for the game at NYCFC. His skill set seems made for the tiny pitch at Yankee Stadium.

Toronto is one of the worst defensive teams in MLS, with 29 goals allowed. Atlanta United has scored five goals in its past two games and is starting to see Josef Martinez and Luiz Araujo form a partnership in attack. The one win the team has against the three opponents came at BMO Field. Its record there is 1-3-1.

Red Bull Arena has been a house of horrors for Atlanta United. It is 0-2-2 there and has yet to score. The Red Bulls are second in the East but haven’t been as strong at home this season (2-2-4) as in the past.

Atlanta United is 0-3-1 at Yankee Stadium, the home of NYCFC, with three goals scored and nine allowed. NYCFC, the defending MLS Cup champs, are atop the East with 27 points and chasing LAFC in the Supporters Shield race.

“We’re preparing our best for these games just like we always do,” centerback Alan Franco said. “I think it’s good that the results that we got in the last game being able to come off of that heading into these games, but we know they’re three difficult games. So we’re going to prepare our best and give the best out of all this just like we always do.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas