Atlanta United begins play in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs midweek on Wednesday, Nov. 1. The 5-Stripes take on the 3-seed in the conference Columbus Crew in the Round One Best-of-3 series.
Here are a few things to know about the series as we kick off Game 1 in Columbus:
- Wednesday marks the first match in a Best-of-3 series. The first team to win two matches will advance to the single-elimination conference semifinals.
- As the higher seed, Columbus Crew will have home field advantage for the series. They'll host Game 1 and, if necessary, Game 3. Atlanta United will host Game 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 7. Click here to view tickets
- Atlanta United will wear the 17s' kit for Game 1 in Columbus | Learn the story of the kit
Schedule for Round One Best-of-3 series between No. 6 Atlanta United vs. No. 3 Columbus Crew:
- Game 1: Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Lower.com Field (FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, Star 94)
- Game 2: Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7:00 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 92.9 The Game)
- Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Lower.com Field (MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, Star 94)
Don’t Doubt Atlanta Watch Party 🔴 ⚫
Get hype and join us at CODA Square in Midtown to watch Atlanta United face-off against Columbus Crew in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. Watch party begins at 6:00pm with kickoff on the BIG screen at 7:00 p.m.!
About the Best-of 3 Series
The Best-of-3 series is new this year for MLS. Here are a few rules to consider heading into it, per MLSSoccer.com:
- Win-only: Every Round One game will have a winner. There are no ties, no aggregate score.
- PK shootout: If a Round One game is tied at the end of regulation time (90 minutes), no extra time will be played. There will immediately be a penalty kick shootout to determine the winner.
- Best-of-3: The first team to win two matches will advance.
- What does Round One of Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs look like for Atlanta United?
- Atlanta United’s Round One Best-of-3 series begins November 1 in Columbus
- How Atlanta United is preparing for Game 1 in Columbus | This week's Training Notebook
- Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United secures playoff road win at Columbus
- How To Watch: Game 1 in Round One Best-of-3 series between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew
- Everything you need about the MLS Cup Playoffs: Visit our Playoff Central page
A look at the all-time series history between Atlanta United and Columbus Crew
Atlanta holds a 5-7-3 all-time record against Columbus Crew in MLS regular season play and is winless against Columbus in the previous three meetings. In the first of two matchups in the 2023 regular season, Columbus Crew throttled Atlanta United 6-1 back in March. The asterisk beside this match was that Atlanta United was missing seven players due to international duty, including Thiago Almada, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Miles Robinson and Luis Abram. In the second meeting of the year, played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda had a fuller roster, including the new acquisitions from the summer transfer window, and the result was a 1-1 draw in Atlanta's penultimate regular season match.
Columbus Crew has home field advantage at Lower.com Field
The higher seed has home field advantage in the Best-of-3 series, which means that two of the three matches in the series will be played in Ohio. And the Crew is very good at home. Columbus is unbeaten in 15 straight home matches in all competitions, and has lost just one of its previous 27 matches played at home, dating back to August 2022. Columbus Crew is equally formidable in playoff matches at home; the club has won six of their last seven.
Atlanta will see a home playoff match for Game 2. Atlanta United hosts Columbus Crew on November 7. Click here to view tickets.
Atlanta United's player availability, including Thiago Almada
Atlanta United will be without Thiago Almada for Game 1 of the Best-of-3 series against Columbus Crew. The Argentine midfielder was issued a red card in the 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati on Decision Day and will be suspended for Wednesday's match. Almada led MLS with 19 assists this season and his 30 goal contributions were the second-most in MLS in 2023 behind only Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati.
"It changes the game plan, how we press, how we occupy the spaces, how we create the gaps we normally try to create in the opposition's shapes," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said at media availability on Monday. "At times, Thiago has a free role in certain areas to move, in the pocket and central areas, out wide, and from there he's very good at progressing the ball forward. So, whoever is going to replace him or play in that certain role, we have to be more specific in the ways and the patterns we have to create. The style won't change, but I would say the structures or the way we are getting the patterns is going to change slightly."
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