The International break is over and it’s crunch time in Major League Soccer as we head into the final week of the regular season. Atlanta United enters the weekend in ninth place in the Eastern Conference two points behind the seventh and final playoff spot. Saturday’s opponent, New England Revolution, are in 11th place two points behind Atlanta with two matches to play, effectively turning Saturday afternoon’s tilt into an elimination match in the Eastern Conference. The 5-Stripes will also be keeping a keen eye on other matchups across the league, in particular Toronto vs. Miami (Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.) and Columbus vs. New York Red Bulls (Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m.). But first things first, Atlanta needs to take care of business at Gillette Stadium against the Revolution. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against New England.

Consistent lineup producing consistent results

One thing Atlanta United has not had the luxury of doing a lot this season is repeating lineups. Over the last three matches, head coach Gonzalo Pineda has been able to name the same starting XI and Atlanta has picked up seven points. In the only draw, a 0-0 against Supporters’ Shield contenders Philadelphia Union, Atlanta played one of its best matches, holding the high-flying Union to zero shots on target and dominating the play from start to finish.

The 5-Stripes will look to pick up where they left off and carry that momentum from the final three matches before the break into the final stretch. Gillette Stadium has proven to be a decent away ground for Atlanta United over the years, as the 5-Stripes have only lost one of four all-time meetings there (1 W - 1 L - 2 D record). If it can control the tempo and create quality scoring opportunities as it did against Philadelphia, Atlanta will have an excellent chance at picking up three points on the road and keeping its playoff chances alive.

Don’t let Carles Gil take over the match

After winning the Supporters’ Shield last season, New England has not had the same kind of success this year. But one player continues to shine and will have to be a focus for Atlanta United’s defense. That player is captain Carles Gil. The Spanish midfielder earned 2021 Landon Donovan MLS MVP honors and has followed that up with another outstanding season. He has scored seven goals and added 13 assists. Gil is the best chance creator in the league, both from open play and especially set pieces, as he leads the league in that category once again with 106 chances created. Atlanta’s midfield, in particular Santiago Sosa and Amar Sejdic, will have to be aware of Gil’s movement in the middle of the pitch.

If Atlanta can continue to be solid on defense and contain Gil and the New England attack, then three points are within reach on Saturday afternoon.

Be more clinical in the final third

Creating chances and scoring opportunities has not been an issue for Atlanta United this season. The team leads MLS in key passes (362) and total shots (509). The quality of Atlanta’s chances hasn’t been bad either, as Opta ranks the 5-Stripes in fourth place with an expected goals value of 54.7 for the season.

One area where the team needs to improve in these final games of the regular season is being more clinical in front of goal. Atlanta only ranks 12th in MLS with 46 goals scored. Finishing those opportunities has been one of the points of emphasis during the international break and will be a key factor if the 5-Stripes are to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Fans can tune-in nationally on UniMás/TUDN for Spanish TV coverage. Fans can also watch on Twitter for English language coverage as Atlanta United travels to New England Revolution at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream Saturday's match.

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