Atlanta United at home: 10-3-4
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
Christian Ramirez: Eight goals, four assists
Aiden Morris: Four goals, seven assists
Atlanta United key players
Thiago Almada: 11 goals, 19 assists
Giorgos Giakoumakis: 17 goals, two assists
Brooks Lennon: Four goals, 10 assists
Caleb Wiley: Four goals, four assists
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.
ATL: Guzan; Lennon, Cobb, Purata, Gutman (Wolff 45th minute); Sejdic (Lopez 65th), Sosa (Fortune 73rd), Ibarra; Araujo, Berry (Rossetto 73rd), Wiley
CLB: 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.
ATL: Guzan; Lennon, Robinson, Abram, Wiley; Rosetto (Fortune 75th minute), Muyumba (Berry 89th), Almada; Silva (Thiare 75th, Etienne Jr. 83rd), Lobjanidze (Mosquera 62nd), Giakoumakis.
CLB: 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.
ATL: Guzan; Lennon, Hernandez (Thiare 60′), Robinson, Abram, Wiley ; Rossetto, Muyumba (Lobjanidze - 46′), Fortune (Wolff 88′); Silva (Mosquera 60′), Giakoumakis (Etienne Jr. 88′)
CLB: Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Amundsen; Yeboah, Morris, Nagbe, Gressel; Matan (Molino - 87′), Cucho, Rossi (Zawadzki - 88′)
1. How will Pineda set up the team? Pineda set up the team more defensively with three centerbacks in Game 1. It worked until a turnover led to a Columbus’ counterattack and goal just before halftime. Pineda said on Monday that his team must go for it on Tuesday, so look for him to set them up with just two centerbacks and tactics that will emphasize consistent attacking.
2. Will Almada step up? This may be Almada’s last match as an Atlanta United player. It’s been expected that he will be sold during the January transfer window but there haven’t been many, really any, bona fide reports of expected offers from clubs in Europe. This may be Almada’s last chance to show any interested parties that he can thrive in matches of the highest pressure and stakes.
3. Last chances for several more players. In addition to Almada, this will almost certainly be the last matches for Miles Robinson, the team’s longest-serving player since he was drafted from Syracuse in 2017, and midfielder Matheus Rossetto. Both are out of contract at season’s end. The club has had an offer to Robinson out for more than 15 months. He has yet to sign. “I’ve thought about it. But my full focus is on Tuesday right now and then after the game, we’ll think about those things,” Rossetto said.
Referee: Chris Penso
AR1: Cameron Blanchard
AR2: Jeremy Hanson
Fourth: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
VAR: Geoff Gamble
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert
Out: Machop Chol (hamstring).
Out: Will Sands (knee).
What was said
“I think we just have to be able to control all the situations. We know we’re at home, we’re a team that likes to press, we like to attack. So offensively, defensively, being controlled. And yeah, we’re going to want to go out and give everything on Tuesday.” -- Rossetto
“I think, for us, we know it’s a must win. And we’ve just got to create some chances. I think that was the one thing we were missing in the game, I think if we created a couple more chances, it’s a different game. And also it’s just managing the moments of the game a little bit better. As a team, I think we could have done that a little bit better.” -- Jay Fortune
“I want my team to be more thinking on how we are going to hurt them when we have the ball. And yes, defensively, we have to be smart, and we have to be alert. But we have to be more the team that is in dominance of them.” -- Pineda
“Tomorrow, I would like them to enjoy. Yes, they will bring the energy, Yeah, they will help us, they will support us. I want the energy to be more from the field to the fans and they just enjoy what the players are doing. So I hope tomorrow we can make them happier.” -- Pineda
Atlanta United’s predicted 11
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Centerback Luis Abram
Centerback Miles Robinson
Right fullback Brooks Lennon
Left fullback Caleb Wiley
Defensive midfielder Matheus Rossetto
Midfielder Tristan Muyumba
Attacking midfielder Thiago Almada
Winger Saba Lobjanidze
Winger Edwin Mosquera
Striker Giorgos Giakoumakis