A few things to know about Atlanta United this week:
1. The Five Stripes were off last week. Though there were just six games in MLS, one of them involved NYCFC. The Boys in Blue defeated New England 2-1 to move into first place in the East with 53 points. Philadelphia is in second with 51 points. Atlanta United is in third with 48 points. Atlanta United will play at NYCFC on Sept. 25. NYCFC will play at Philadelphia on Oct. 6.
In the new playoff structure, introduced for this season, the playoffs consist of single-elimination games. The first seed will receive a bye. The second seed will host the seventh seed, the third seed will host the sixth seed, and the fourth seed will host the fifth.
The sixth seed is currently Toronto. Atlanta United defeated Toronto 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and was beaten 3-2 at BMO Field.
2. Atlanta United will host Columbus on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Columbus is in 11th in the 12-team East with just 31 points from 30 games. Despite its poor performances, striker Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Wil Trapp were called up by U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter into the ongoing camp. Berhalter formerly managed both players when he was with the Crew.
3. Atlanta United centerback Miles Robinson and goalkeeper Brad Guzan were also called up by Berhalter. Robinson made his USMNT debut in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Mexico. Guzan didn’t make the 18. Both players may get another opportunity on Tuesday when the U.S. hosts Uruguay in St. Louis. Robinson seems a lock to get more playing time because John Brooks, one of four centerbacks on the roster, left camp after the game against Mexico.
4. After Columbus, Atlanta United’s remaining games are at Cincinnati (18 points), vs. San Jose (44), at NYCFC, at Montreal (37) and vs. New England (39). Just three of those teams, NYCFC, the Quakes and the Revs, are above the playoff lines in their conferences. The toughest games will be at NYCFC on its ridiculous pitch and San Jose.
5. Atlanta United will need to win out if it hopes to finish in first in the East. NYCFC has a few tough games remaining, including vs. San Jose, at New England and at Dallas, but is playing well. Philadelphia must host LAFC, which should win the Supporters’ Shield, go to Red Bulls, to San Jose and then there is the finale.