Atlanta United’s playoff scenarios heading into regular season finale

110120 Atlanta: Atlanta United defenders try to block a header by Cincinnati's Kendall Watson that goalkeeper Brad Guzan was able to save during their 2-0 victory Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
110120 Atlanta: Atlanta United defenders try to block a header by Cincinnati's Kendall Watson that goalkeeper Brad Guzan was able to save during their 2-0 victory Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta United doesn’t yet control whether it can qualify for the MLS playoffs.

However, it has a chance because it defeated Cincinnati 2-0 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Important thing for us tonight was that we looked after our own business,” interim manager Stephen Glass said.

ExploreSteve Hummer: Atlanta United playoffs? Really?

Two teams, Chicago and Montreal, will play a part.

Though all of the results it needed happened on Sunday — it defeated Cincinnati while Montreal, D.C. United and Miami lost — the team won’t know if a win next week guarantees a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season until the result of Chicago’s game at Minnesota on Wednesday. MLS is using points per game as the determinant for seedings because not every team in the league will play the same number of games. In the Eastern Conference, though, they should.

The top 10 teams in each conference make the playoffs. Here is the relevant part of the Eastern Conference table:

9. Montreal, 23 points, 1.05 points per game

10. Chicago, 22 points, 1.05 ppg

11. Atlanta United, 22 points, 1 ppg

12. Miami, 21 points, 0.95 ppg

13. D.C. United, 21 points, 0.95 ppg

Here are the scenarios:

⋅ If Chicago wins on Wednesday, it will have 25 points, three more than Atlanta United and two more than Montreal. It would force Atlanta United to have to defeat Columbus on Sunday while also hoping that Chicago loses its finale. Chicago will play at NYCFC. If Chicago loses and Atlanta United wins, it will advance because it will have the first tie-breaker, number of wins. Montreal’s result in its finale against D.C. United would be irrelevant.

⋅ If Chicago draws on Wednesday and improves to 23 points, Atlanta United would advance to the playoffs by defeating Columbus and with a Chicago draw or loss, or Montreal draw or loss, on Sunday.

⋅ If Chicago loses on Wednesday, Atlanta United would advance to the playoffs by defeating Columbus on Sunday. The other results of the teams around it in the standings wouldn’t matter.

⋅ Even if Chicago wins its next two games, if Montreal loses its finale and Atlanta United wins, it would qualify for the playoffs.

Atlanta United coming game

Nov. 8 at Columbus (10-5-5), 3:30 p.m., FSSE

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