Predicting the MLS East’s final standings

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) walks out onto the pitch for warmups before the match against Inter Miami Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Caption
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) walks out onto the pitch for warmups before the match against Inter Miami Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

Where will Atlanta United finish?

Atlanta United moved back above the playoff line with Saturday’s 2-0 win at Toronto.

But because the MLS Eastern Conference remains very jumbled, the team has yet to secure a playoff spot with five games remaining. Atlanta United will host NYCFC on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The good news for the Five Stripes is that it has the easiest remaining schedule among the nine teams competing for the final six spots. New England has clinched. Nashville is very close to doing so.

A look at the teams in the East that are competing for the playoff spots:

Team -- Points -- PPG -- OPPG -- HG -- AG

y-New England -- 66 -- 2.2 -- 1.45 -- 2 -- 2

Nashville -- 48 -- 1.66 -- 1.30 -- 2 -- 3

Philadelphia -- 46 -- 1.59 -- 1.2 -- 2 -- 3

Orlando -- 45 -- 1.55 -- 1.59 -- 3 -- 2

Atlanta United -- 42 -- 1.45 -- 1.08 -- 3 -- 2

DC United -- 41 -- 1.41 -- 1.42 -- 3 -- 2

Montreal -- 41 -- 1.41 -- 1.27 -- 2 -- 3

-Playoff line-

NYCFC -- 40 -- 1.38 -- 1.30 -- 3 -- 2

Red Bulls -- 40 -- 1.38 -- 1.44 -- 2 -- 3

Columbus -- 37 -- 1.28 -- 1.21 -- 3 -- 2

y-clinched playoff spot

HG: home games.

AG: away games.

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A look at Atlanta United’s remaining schedule:

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.: NYCFC is 1-5-3 in its past nine games and been shut out in four consecutive games. They’ve gone from a team that some thought would challenge New England for first in the East to one that may not make the playoffs. Because Atlanta United is playing at home, it wins.

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m.: It seemed unlikely that Miami’s start would be as bad as it’s years-long runup to starting but it’s Florida so anything is possible. Miami once again looks awful on the pitch despite spending millions of dollars on players, dumping managers and changing out its front office. Atlanta United wins.

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m. Toronto is eliminated from the playoffs. It has nothing to play for. Will this be Michael Bradley’s and Jozy Altidore’s last appearance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium? It’s hard to imagine Toronto wanting to keep them. It’s hard to imagine another MLS team paying them what I presume they will want in salary. Atlanta United wins.

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls: Red Bulls are 5-0-2 in their past seven and may be playing to secure a playoff spot. Atlanta United has rarely played well here. Atlanta United loses.

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m.: A team that may be playing only to avoid winning its third consecutive wooden spoon, an “award” for the team that finishes the season with the fewest points. Though Atlanta United has a horrible history in must-win games during the regular season, it wins.

Final tally: That’s 12 of a possible 15 points taken from the team’s final five games. Atlanta United finishes with 54 points and in third place in the MLS East.

Final predicted standings:

1. New England, 73

Wins: vs. Colorado, vs. Miami

Losses: at D.C. United

Draws: at Orlando

2. Nashville, 58

Wins: vs. Columbus, at Cincinnati, vs. Red Bulls

Losses: at Orlando

Draws: at Philadelphia

3. Atlanta United, 54

4. Philadelphia, 54

Wins: vs Cincinnati, at Toronto

Losses: at Minnesota

Draws: vs. Nashville, at NYCFC

5. Orlando, 52

Wins: vs. Montreal, vs. Nashville

Losses: at Montreal, at Columbus

Draws: vs. New England,

6. D.C. United, 50

Wins: vs. New England, vs. Red Bulls, vs. Columbus

Losses: at NYCFC

7. Montreal, 50

Wins: at Toronto, vs. Houston, vs. Orlando.

Losses: at Red Bulls, at Orlando.

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