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Tools to the Match: How ATL UTD can keep their postseason run alive

The regular season records have been wiped clean, it all comes down to this: the MLS Cup Playoffs are here. With just three wins standing in the way of Atlanta United and a repeat appearance in MLS Cup, every moment matters as the Five Stripes look to defend their throne as the reigning champions. First up: a rematch of the final match of the regular season as the New England Revolution come to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the second time in two weeks.

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Ahead of the elimination match, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot:

Stay Solid

Atlanta United came out deserved winners the last time these two teams faced each other, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing to improve. After the match, the players talked about allowing too many chances for the opponent, with one of them costing them a lead. The Five Stripes fought through it to get the win last time, but all it takes is one slip-up to cost you in a single-elimination playoff format. Last year’s postseason run came thanks to a grit and defensive solidity that proved unbeatable for their opponents, especially at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. If they can get back to that, we could see another deep run for the Five Stripes in this postseason quest.

Guard Gil… Again

There’s no question who the catalyst is for the New England Revolution attack: newly-named MLS Newcomer of the Year Carles Gil. With experience in the Premier League and LaLiga, Gil has the quality and the vision to find the defense-splitting pass from midfield. Look for the Spaniard to start on the wing but to drift inside in a free role, where he’s shown he can be dangerous with ten goals and twelve assists this season. Atlanta United did a great job limiting his comfort level and time on the ball the last time out, but expect Bruce Arena to throw a curveball in the re-match. If Atlanta United can do it again, it will go a long way toward stopping Revolution chances before they come.

Use the Home Field Advantage

Atlanta United’s entire regular season earned them the opportunity to play postseason matches in front of their record-breaking fans. Now it’s time to make sure that advantage gets put to use. Jumping out of the gates with pressure early on will get the already-rowdy crowd even more hyped, turning Mercedes-Benz Stadium into the incredible cauldron of noise that propelled the Five Stripes to postseason glory last season. If Atlanta United can turn that pressure into a goal, it will put their opponents on the back foot, make them come out of their defensive shell, and open up space for them to attack. Atlanta United has won 12 out of its last 14 games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Now it’s time to make use of that advantage when it counts the most.

Every moment is crucial for Atlanta United as they enter the single-elimination knockout play of MLS Cup playoffs. Make sure you’re there to witness every moment as they try to retain their throne as MLS Cup champions. Click here to reserve your spot, or if you can’t make the trip, click here for all the ways to tune in from home.

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