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Atlanta United returns to Ohio on Sunday to take on Columbus Crew in a nationally televised matchup. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET. 

Just last weekend, Atlanta United traveled to the state of Ohio and played FC Cincinnati to a 2-2 draw. Now, Atlanta is back on the road to face Columbus Crew for the second and final meeting between the two clubs in the regular season. 

Atlanta United is coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. But with three matches in eight days, and a tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race, the club is moving on with a positive mindset. 

“It was a difficult match that hurt us a lot,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “We ended it feeling very frustrated, but I showed them the reality. The reality is we are four points from the playoff line with 27 points up for play. Obviously if we stay in a negative head space, in the moment everything would appear to be dark and gloomy that we are a disaster but that’s not that case. I think the team does many things well. First of all, I like that they never give up, they fight, they give their all, they create opportunities. I think the team gives 100 percent.”

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Last Time At Lower.com Field 

While Atlanta United is looking to get above the playoff line, this weekend they face a team that is currently already there. Columbus Crew enters Sunday’s meeting in 5th place with 34 points and an 8-6-10 record. 

Columbus plays their home matches at Lower.com Field, a soccer-specific venue. Up until July 2021, Columbus played its home matches at Columbus Crew Stadium, now called Historic Crew Stadium, which was the first MLS stadium built specifically for soccer. Last time Atlanta United visited Lower.com Field in 2021, they won 3-2 to spark a four-match winning streak.

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The Crew’s most recent win at home, the 3-2 win over New York City FC on August 6, was just their third win in their last 10 home matches. So on Sunday, Atlanta United will be looking to prevent the Crew from getting back-to-back home wins for the first time since the start of the regular season.

Everything Is Dangerous About Columbus Crew

Atlanta United holds a 5-6-1 all-time record against Columbus Crew. Prior to the previous meeting, the series was split evenly with each team winning five times. Columbus Crew has owned the series as of late, winning six of its last seven MLS matchups against Atlanta United.

Last time out on May 28, Columbus Crew came to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and beat Atlanta United 2-1. In the last meeting, which played out very similarly to Atlanta United’s most recent match against Red Bulls, the home team gave up two first half goals. Dom Dwyer scored a goal in second-half stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough to overcome being two goals down.

“Everything in general is dangerous about Columbus, so we will come up with a good training plan, a good plan for the game and then try to do our game and try to get more and better chances than them,” Pineda said.

Atlanta United Moving On From Red Bulls

Atlanta United is currently toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference table. The club enters the weekend’s match in 12th place with 29 points. When the teams met the first time in May, the standings were extremely tight – and not much has changed in that regard. Atlanta United sits just four points below the club currently in seventh place (Orlando City SC).

The key for Atlanta United will be not to concede any early goals. In their last match, Atlanta played a good second half against Red Bulls, but two early goals were the deciding factor, and the home side were unable to answer. To get its third straight road result, Atlanta United will need to correct the errors that lead to early goals and continue to create chances in the attacking third.

“There were many moments where we played well, where we won individual duels, especially in the second half,” Pineda said. “We won several duels and that’s the first thing I want in Columbus, because they are a physically strong team, both their wingers are fast and strong, their midfielders are good with and without the ball, they have tall and strong center backs. So, I want a competitive team, I want a team that fights for every ball, a team that’s strong in individual duals but also a team that plays football well, which is what I think we do best and that’s the idea.”

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Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Columbus Crew
Atlanta United
Possession
51.0% (12th)
58.3% (2nd)
Duel Percentage
52.5% (t-3rd)
52.5% (t-3rd)
Pass Percentage
82.7% (11th)
85.2% (1st)
Key Passes
206 (16th)
276 (1st)

Players To Watch 

Josef Martínez – Atlanta United's striker made MLS history on Wednesday with his goal on the Red Bulls in second-half stoppage time. The low dribbler was Martínez’s 100th goal across MLS regular season and playoff matches. In just 136 matches, he also became the fastest player to ever reach the feat (Bradley Wright-Phillips held the previous best at 160 matches). Martínez will be looking to add to his scoring legacy on Sunday against Columbus. 

Cucho Hernández – The 23-year-old Colombian forward has been making noise since arriving to Columbus Crew in June. He signed as a designated player in what was the largest transaction in club history. Then, he scored his first career MLS goal in his debut on July 9. Since then, he’s gone on to add five more goals (only Sebastián Driussi and Brandon Vázquez have scored more in that span). Cucho’s arrival has reinvigorated the Crew, leading the side to a 3-1-3 record since he joined, including the win over defending MLS Cup champion New York City FC. 

Other Tidbits 

  • Atlanta United will be wearing the BLVCK Kit on Sunday.