Atlanta United on road: 3-6-8
Columbus goals for/against in regular season: 67/46
Columbus expected goals for/against in regular season: 57.7/41.3
Atlanta United goals for/against in regular season: 66/53
Atlanta United expected goals for/against in regular season: 48.7/46
Columbus key players
Cucho: 16 goals, 11 assists; 3 goals in playoffs
Christian Ramirez: Eight goals, four assists
Aiden Morris: Four goals, seven assists
Atlanta United key players
Thiago Almada: 11 goals, 19 assists; 1 goal in playoffs
Giorgos Giakoumakis: 17 goals, two assists; 1 goal, 2 assists in playoffs
Brooks Lennon: Four goals, 10 assists; 1 assist in playoffs
Caleb Wiley: Four goals, four assists; 1 assist in playoffs
Saba Lobjanidze: Three goals, four assists
Recapping this season’s meetings
COLUMBUS 6, ATLANTA UNITED 1: Both teams were without several starters because of a FIFA International window and subsequent national team call-ups when they met at Lower.com Field on March 25. Columbus jumped to a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Atlanta United lost hope of winning when the Crew poured in four goals in 21 minutes in the second half. Brooks Lennon scored for Atlanta United.
Atlanta United: Guzan; Lennon, Cobb, Purata, Gutman (Wolff 45th minute); Sejdic (Lopez 65th), Sosa (Fortune 73rd), Ibarra; Araujo, Berry (Rossetto 73rd), Wiley
Columbus: Schulte; Moreira, Quinton, Vallecilla (Hughes 89th); Morris, Nagbe (Zawadski 73rd), Sands, Farsi; Ramirez (Yeboah 73rd), Russell-Rowe (Arfsten 82nd), Matan (Parente 89th)
ATLANTA UNITED 1, COLUMBUS 1: Cucho scored in the 65th minute at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Oct. 7. Miles Robinson scored the tying goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time. The draw ended Atlanta United’s hopes of finishing in the top four in the East.
Atlanta United: Guzan; Lennon, Robinson, Abram, Wiley; Rosetto (Fortune 75th minute), Muyumba (Berry 89th), Almada; Silva (Thiare 75th, Etienne Jr. 83rd), Lobjanidze (Mosquera 62nd), Giakoumakis.
Columbus: Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Cheberko (Farsi 89th); Gressel, Nagbe, Morris, Zawadszki; Rossi (Molino 90+5th), Matan (Ramirez 90+3rd), Cucho
COLUMBUS 2, ATLANTA UNITED 0: Atlanta United set itself up to try to frustrate Columbus. It worked until Cucho broke through in first-half stoppage time to give the Crew a 1-0 lead. Atlanta United’s offense was held to a franchise-low on shot, which it didn’t put on goal. It created just one chance.
Atlanta United: Guzan; Lennon, Hernandez (Thiare 60th′), Robinson, Abram, Wiley; Rossetto, Muyumba (Lobjanidze – 46th′), Fortune (Wolff 88th′); Silva (Mosquera 60th′), Giakoumakis (Etienne Jr. 88th′)
Columbus: Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Amundsen; Yeboah, Morris, Nagbe, Gressel; Matan (Molino – 87th′), Cucho, Rossi (Zawadzki – 88th′)
ATLANTA UNITED 4, COLUMBUS 2: Giakoumakis scored one goal and had two assists to lead Atlanta United in Game 2 of the playoff series. Almada was back in the lineup and scored one goal and occupied Columbus’ midfielders throughout.
Atlanta United: Guzan; Lennon, Robinson, Abram, Wiley; Rossetto (Fortune 57th′), Muyumba, Almada (Purata 90th+3′); Silva (Mosquera 80th′), Lobjanidze (Wolff 80th′), Giakoumakis (Thiare 90th+3′).
Columbus: Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Zawadzki (Yeboah 64th′); Amundsen, Morris (Ramirez 80th′), Nagbe, Gressel (Farsi 80th′); Matan (Arfsten 90th+1), Cucho (Russel-Rowe 90th+1′), Rossi
1. How will Pineda set up the team? Attack, attack, attack. Atlanta United has nothing to lose.
2. Can team overcome past? Atlanta United has been outscored 8-1 and limited to three shots in two matches at Lower.com Field this season.
REF: Armando Villarreal
AR1: Corey Parker
AR2: Jose Da Silva
4TH: Tori Penso
VAR: Daniel Radford
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson
Out: Machop Chol (hamstring).
Questionable: Matheus Rossetto (calf).
Out: Will Sands (knee).
What was said
“No pressure, no pressure. Like, for me, it’s just more motivation, right? There is stress, there’s anxiety as well. How you describe pressure, like pressure is trying to be in a single mother trying to feed your kids without a job. That’s pressure.” – Pineda
“I don’t think there are many surprises at this point. Not just between us two but, in general, in the league. Most of the teams are consistent with what we have been doing throughout the whole season or at the end, at least the last part of the season. So I don’t think there are many surprises there. You can tweak little things. But I wouldn’t call that surprise.” – Pineda
“I think that’s our attacking is one of our big objectives. On this team, we love to attack. And then the defensive part is something that we’re always looking to work to get better on. But definitely, we’re not scared to go there on Sunday.” – Caleb Wiley
Atlanta United’s predicted 11
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Centerback Luis Abram
Centerback Miles Robinson
Right fullback Brooks Lennon
Left fullback Caleb Wiley
Midfielder Jay Fortune
Midfielder Tristan Muyumba
Attacking midfielder Thiago Almada
Winger Saba Lobjanidze
Winger Xande Silva
Striker Giorgos Giakoumakis
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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, Cincinnati 2
Nov. 1 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 0
Nov. 7 Atlanta United 4, Columbus 2