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MLS Playoff Preview: Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United

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The Columbus Crew face Atlanta United in the first round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, which is a best-of-three series. Game 1 is in Columbus on Nov. 1st, Game 2 is in Atlanta on Nov. 7th, and Game 3 is back in Columbus on Nov. 12 if necessary. Let us look at the matchup.

Match Details Click Here

How did they get here?

The Crew finished the season with 16 wins, 9 losses, and 9 draws. The 57 points earned was good enough for third place in the Eastern Conference. It earned the Crew home field advantage against Atlanta United, who finished in sixth place with a record of 13-9-12, earning 51 points.

Head-to-Head Matchups

Columbus scored 4 points in head-to-head matchups in 2023, compared to 1 for Atlanta United. The Crew defeated Atlanta United 6-1 in front of the home crowd on 3/25/23. The match was 1-0 Columbus at the half but the Crew bum-rushed Atlanta United in the second half and scored 5 goals. Both teams were missing multiple starters due to international call-ups.

Columbus was on the brink of sweeping the season series, but Atlanta United scored a goal off a Thiago Almada free kick in second half stoppage time to forge 1-1 draw on 10/7/23 in Atlanta.

The teams have played 18 matches all-time. The Crew have won 9 and Atlanta United 5, with 4 draws.

Who’s Hot? Last five games (starting with most recent)

The Crew have been the hotter club recently, earning 9 points in the past 5 games compared to 6 points for Atlanta United.

Columbus Crew: (W-D-W-D-D); Atlanta United: (D-D-L-W-D) considers both teams to be dark horses who could win the MLS Cup.

Designated Players

Each team has three Designated Players signed for a contract price above the league average.

Columbus Crew’s Designated Players are Darlington Nagbe (#6, Captain)

Photo via the Columbus Dispatch

Cucho Hernández (#9)

Photo via the Columbus Dispatch

and Diego Rossi (#10).

Photo via the Columbus Crew

Atlanta United’s Designated Players are Giorgos Giakoumakis (#7)

Photo via Mitch Martin/Atlanta United

Saba Lobjanidze (#9)

Photo by Mitch Martin/Atlanta United

and Thiago Almada (#10)

Photo by Mitch Martin/Atlanta United

Year-End Award Finalists

The Columbus Crew have three finalists for Year-End Awards:

Aidan Morris is a finalist for Young Player of the Year.

Photo by Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch

Nagbe is a finalist for Impact Player of the Year, and Wilfried Nancy is a finalist for Coach of the Year.

Atlanta United has three finalists for four awards: Almada is a finalist for MVP and Young Player of the Year. Giakoumakis is a finalist for Newcomer of the Year, and Miles Robinson is a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year. Almada is an MVP candidate for goals like this:

Key Offensive Players

Cucho is the Crew’s star forward. Cucho scored 16 goals this season with 11 assists, including two hat tricks in a month.

Other key offensive players for the Crew are winger Julian Gressel, midfielder Alexandru Matan, and forward Christian Ramirez coming in as a sub.

Atlanta United’s stars are Almada (11 goals,19 assists) and Giakoumakis (17 goals, 3 assists). Other key offensive players are Xande Silva and Edwin Mosquera, who typically comes in as a sub.

Important Note: Almada was suspended for Game 1 due to a red card received in the regular season finale.

Head Coaches

Columbus Crew: Wilfried Nancy, first year in Columbus

Photo from

Atlanta United: Gonzalo Pineda, second full year in Atlanta

Photo from

Team Histories

The Columbus Crew was founded in 1996 and has the honor of being Major League Soccer’s inaugural team. The Crew have won MLS Cups in 2008 and 2020, a US Open Cup in 2002, and Supporters’ Shield trophies in 2004, 2008, and 2009.

Atlanta United was founded in 2014, and the club joined MLS in 2017 as an expansion team. Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in 2018 for their only trophy.

Supporters Sections

Columbus Crew: The Nordecke, organizers of the #SaveTheCrew campaign

Photo from

Atlanta United: The Gulch is where supporters’ groups merge into one behind the goal.

Photo from

Home Stadiums

Columbus Crew: Field (20,371 capacity)

Photo from

Atlanta United: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (42,500 capacity)

Photo from

Hype Videos!

Columbus Crew: Click here for the Crew’s hype video!

Atlanta United:



1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Petro

    November 1, 2023 at 8:23 pm

    Well done, Joel!

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