Atlanta United has a plan to try to make playoffs

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Atlanta United has a plan for its remaining 10 MLS games.

It hopes to win its five home games, starting Wednesday against Red Bulls, and at least draw each of its five remaining road games. It has followed its plan in its past three games, drawing at Chicago 0-0, defeating Seattle 2-1 at home, and drawing 2-2 at Cincinnati on Saturday.

But will it be enough?

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After Saturday’s results, the team (7-9-8) slid even further down the East table. It fell from 12th to 13th and from two points away from the seventh and final playoff spot to four away, negating the game it has in hand on a few of the teams it is chasing.

“As long as we don’t concede goals, especially on the road, you’re going to pick up a point, at least,” fullback Brooks Lennon said. “And we have so much talent going forward that we’re going to create chances. I think this team has a very great chance to make the playoffs. Yes, we have a tough couple of games coming up, but there’s no team in the league that we’re scared of.”

Six of Atlanta United’s remaining games are against teams currently above the playoff line. And the team’s form remains inconsistent on offense and defense.

The offense sparkled in the first half, punctuated by Thiago Almada’s goal. Problems with the defense that have plagued the team most of the season resurfaced in the two goals scored by Cincinnati later in the first half. The first came after a turnover by Atlanta United in its defensive third. The second came on a set piece, marking the ninth time this season the team has given up a goal from a dead ball. Manager Gonzalo Pineda said the mistakes cost the team two points.

The defense got itself straightened out in the second half, led by a brilliant save in the final seconds by Rocco Rios Novo, and then the offense disappeared for most of the second half until Andrew Gutman’s late chip with his weaker right foot split the points.

“I haven’t looked at the table after (Saturday night’s) games, but previously, I knew that if we won, we would have jumped a few places,” Gutman said. “So the table is super tight. It can go either way. It’s all about getting on runs. The biggest thing for us is getting points at home. We have five games left at home; we need to win all of those. On the road, at the minimum we need to draw. But at the moment, the team is jelling, and I think it’s possible.”

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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 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

Aug. 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

Aug. 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

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