Despite last weekend’s disappointing loss, the team has regrouped and still has plenty to play for as they control their destiny for silverware this season. But with the race now even tighter, each game left has major implications on the Supporters’ Shield, international qualification and more. Here’s everything that’s at stake for the Five Stripes as they take on the New England Revolution at home on Saturday:
The Supporters’ Shield
Results this weekend can’t clinch the Supporters’ Shield for anyone, but they do have huge implications in the race for the best regular season record. While FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City are still mathematically in contention, it’s all but a two-horse race between Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, who sit one point behind the red, black and gold in the table. As it stands, any combination of nine points gained by Atlanta United or lost by New York would clinch the trophy. So a win for the Five Stripes would push that number down to six, with the Red Bulls set to make a west coast road trip to face the Earthquakes this weekend. If the ‘Quakes can get an upset win of their own, that number would shrink even further, and Atlanta United would be able win the Shield at home against Chicago on October 21st.
Concacaf Champions League
There’s two open spots remaining for next year’s Concacaf Champions League, the international competition between the top clubs in North America. One to the 2018 MLS Cup Champions and the other to the team with the best aggregate record over the past two seasons (2017/2018), and Atlanta United is currently in the lead for that. While they have a few matches left to do it, they can clinch their spot this weekend if they get a little help –– and once again, the Red Bulls match in San Jose looms large. If Atlanta United get a win over the Revs, the Red Bulls dropping any points in San Jose would clinch their spot in international competition for the first time. If Atlanta gets a draw, they would need the Red Bulls to lose altogether to get their spot.
Winning the Supporters’ Shield is more than just a regular season achievement: It has implications in the playoffs as well. Winning this match would go a long way toward clinching the #1 overall seed in the playoffs, which would guarantee home-field advantage throughout the postseason – meaning a MLS Cup Final in Mercedes-Benz Stadium if they are to reach that stage.
Regular Season Points Record
Atlanta United currently sit at 63 points on the season so far, with three matches left to play. The all-time regular season record for points in a season was set last season by Toronto FC, who ended the season with 69 points. Two wins and a draw is what the team needs to set a new benchmark for MLS regular season success, so a win this weekend would be a massive step.
While team success comes first, there are a few individual achievements to keep an eye out for this weekend. Another goal for Josef Martinez would be his 50th in MLS. Meanwhile, Miguel Almirón and Julian Gressel each sit just two assists off the league lead, so a strong performance this weekend could propel them to the top.
With so much on the line, this is a match you won’t want to miss. Tune in to Univision at 3:30 p.m. EST on Saturday to follow along, or click here for all the different ways to catch the match.