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How Atlanta United can pursue higher seed after clinching playoff spot

Atlanta United (15-8-7) will be looking to build on their recent hot streak after going seven matches unbeaten and clinching a playoff berth as they travel to New England (11-15-5) this Saturday. It’s a match with major playoff implications with Atlanta gunning for a top two seed and a first round bye and the Revolution hoping to sneak above the red line in the season’s final stretch.

Ahead of Saturday night’s matchup, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot:

1) Forget the Former Fixture

The first meeting between the two clubs ended 7-0 in favor of Atlanta, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Revolution played down two men for the majority of the match after a few early red cards and they have yet to win a match on the road this season. It’s a different story at Gillette Stadium as New England have won six straight home games in league play, tied for the second-longest streak in team history. They have only conceded four goals and kept four clean sheets over this span, and they boast a strong 11-2-2 record at home, matching that of Atlanta’s. It’s proven, year after year, home-field advantage in MLS plays a major role in performance and result. On Saturday night, Atlanta will face a very different challenge than they saw in Atlanta.

2) Martinez’s Month

The Revolution have certainly not forgotten Atlanta’s number seven that buried a first-half hat-trick in the reverse fixture just a few weeks ago. But it’s not just the Revs whose net has been breached by the Venezuelan international, striker Josef Martinez is having the best month of his Atlanta United career and the best September of any striker in the league notching nine goals so far to add to his 18 on the year. Pace, agility, technical ability, finishing, awareness, etc. The list of attributes goes on for the forward that’s scoring a goal every 71 minutes this season. It’s uncertain what Saturday holds in the cards, but September has been Martinez’s month and he’s two goals away from catching the Golden Boot leader.

3) Give It To Gressel

Atlanta United fans were hit with a major blow last week as their Paraguayan playmaker Miguel Almirón went down with an injury that’s expected to keep him out for a few weeks. But the team’s resilience was on full display as they rallied as a squad and maintained their red-hot form with SuperDraft Selection Julian Gressel stepping up big into the number 10 role for the injured Almirón. Gressel looked right at home in the center of the park tallying a goal and two assists in their last two wins. His physicality, work ethic and eye for the penetrating pass make him a key asset for the Atlanta attack as the kid continues to make his case for MLS Rookie of the Year.

How to follow

You can catch all the action from New England on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. EST, with the match broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast or via Fox Sports GO. Click here for all details on how to follow the match.