The Five Stripes are smack in the middle of where they should be but need more wins to go where they want to be.
That place is higher among the top flank of the MLS Eastern Conference. They rank 5th behind Cincinnati, Nashville, New England, and Philadelphia. They are above the playoff line with 29 accumulated points, 6 more than D.C. which is sitting right on the line that will eventually determine who qualifies for the MLS playoffs and who doesn’t.
They are currently 2 points behind Philly, 5 behind New England, 6 behind Nashville, and 13 behind division leader Cincinnati.
What Atlanta United needs right now is more wins. They have been very good so far at 7-4-8, but the top four ahead of them have much better numbers. Their last game on Wednesday with New York City ended in a draw. A draw is obviously better than a loss, but to hold their position in the rankings or improve their standing, they need to win more games rather than score draws or worse, losses.
This Saturday against the New York Red Bulls is a good place to start. Although the Bulls are underachieving so far this year (4-6-8), it will be tougher than usual for the Stripes since the game will be in New York, not at Mercedes Benz Stadium here in Atlanta. Atlanta United will be home for the next game against Philadelphia on July 2nd, but their focus needs to be on the Red Bulls this weekend.
According to Google’s win probability assessment, the Bulls are favored to win this contest by 48%, as opposed to an ATLUTD victory (26%) or a draw (26%). Coach Gonzalo Pineda will need his troops to take some targeted shots and keep the Red Bulls away from the goals. That won’t be an easy task.
But if they do secure a win over the Red Bulls Saturday, they could make staying in playoff contention an easier-to-achieve goal.