Atlanta United will face Columbus in first round of MLS playoffs

Atlanta United forward Giorgos Giakoumakis #7 during the first half of the match against Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday October 7, 2023. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United)

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Atlanta United forward Giorgos Giakoumakis #7 during the first half of the match against Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday October 7, 2023. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United)

CINCINNATI -- Atlanta United will face Columbus in the first round of the MLS playoffs.

Columbus, which defeated Montreal 2-1 on Saturday, finished as the third seed. Atlanta United, which drew 2-2 at Cincinnati, finished sixth.

The format is best of three. Columbus will host the first and, if necessary, third games. MLS is expected to announce the playoff schedule Sunday afternoon. The match windows are Oct. 29-Nov. 1 and Nov. 5-8 for the first and second games. The Falcons host the Vikings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Nov. 5.

Atlanta United is 0-1-1 against the Crew this season. It was beaten 6-1 in Ohio earlier this season in a match in which both teams were without several starters because it was played during a FIFA window. The teams drew 1-1 on Oct. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a match the Crew dominated.

Atlanta United went 1-5-3 against the top five teams in the Eastern Conference. Columbus went 12-1-4 at home. Atlanta United finished 3-6-8 on the road.

“A good opponent; I think that’s all of them,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “You can’t pick and choose who you want. But, I mean, we’re a club that wants to fight for championships. And when you want to fight for trophies, you have to beat pretty much everyone. That’s the path.”

In the first match, Atlanta United will be without Thiago Almada, its best player who scored 11 goals with 19 assists, because he earned two yellow cards against Cincinnati on Saturday.

In other playoff matchups, the Red Bulls will host Charlotte in the one-off wild-card match between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds. The winner will play Cincinnati, the Supporters’ Shield winner, in the first round. Orlando, the second seed, will play Nashville, the seventh seed, and Philadelphia, the fourth seed, will host New England, the fifth seed.

“I think we are ready for the playoffs,” Atlanta United midfielder Tristan Muyumba said. “I think today we showed we’re a very, very good team. We play against the first team of the league, and away, we played well. And when we played 11 against 11 I think we are the best team on the field tonight. So, the difficult part is for the opponent because playing against Atlanta is not easy. Every team knows to play against Atlanta at home or away is not easy.”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2

Sept. 16 Atlanta United 5, Inter Miami 2

Sept. 20 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 1

Sept. 23 Atlanta United 4, Montreal 1

Oct. 4 Philadelphia 3, Atlanta United 2

Oct. 7 Atlanta United 1, Columbus 1

Oct. 21 Atlanta United 2, FC Cincinnati