Setting up Atlanta United’s playoff chase

Atlanta United is still alive in the race for the MLS playoffs ... but only barely.

Results from this weekend, both for the team and those it is chasing, weren’t favorable.

First, Atlanta United outplayed Philadelphia but settled for a 0-0 draw.

Second, Cincinnati defeated Real Salt Lake, 2-1, and Miami scored in the last minute to defeat D.C. United, 3-2.

Here are the standings and information relevant to Atlanta United going into the final weeks of the season:

5. Orlando, 45 points, three games remaining

6. Cincinnati, 45 points, three games remaining.

7. Miami, 42 points, three games remaining.

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8. Columbus, 42 points, three games remaining

9. Atlanta United, 40 points, two games remaining

Atlanta United’s only realistic target is the seventh and final spot. There are myriad scenarios that could play out for the team to clinch the spot and make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

The easiest is for Atlanta United to win its last two games at New England and against NYCFC. That would move it to 46 points. It would need Miami to win three points or less from its last three games. It would also need Columbus to take four points or less from its remaining three games. Atlanta United has the first tiebreaker, number of wins, over Columbus. It doesn’t hold that tiebreaker over Miami, but could depending upon the final results.

Here are the games remaining for the relevant teams, with the opponents’ average points per game:

Orlando: at NYCFC (1.53), at Miami (1.35), vs. Columbus (1.35). The toughest slate of the teams.

Cincinnati: at Seattle (1.26), vs. Chicago (1.09), at D.C. United (0.84). Other than going across the country, this is the easiest slate.

Miami: at Toronto (1.06), vs. Orlando (1.45), vs. Montreal (1.84). Decision day could prove pivotal.

Columbus: vs Red Bulls (1.56), at Charlotte (1.23), at Orlando (1.45). If Columbus defeats Red Bulls, Atlanta United is in trouble.

Atlanta United: at New England (1.19), vs. NYCFC (1.53).

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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 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

Aug. 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Aug. 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept. 17 Atlanta United 0 Philadelphia 0

Oct. 1 at New England, 1:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE