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Atlanta United aim to punch postseason ticket vs. FC Cincinnati

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Atlanta United do not have an “X” next to their name in the Major League Soccer standings, a mark that signifies a team has clinched a playoff berth.

But it would take a miraculous effort Sunday by host FC Cincinnati in the regular-season finale to knock out Atlanta. FC Cincinnati, after all, have lost 11 in a row.

Fifth-place Atlanta (12-9-12, 48 points) would need to lose to last-place Cincinnati (4-21-8, 20 points) by at least eight goals, have the New York Red Bulls win or tie against Nashville SC, and have CF Montreal beat Orlando City SC 1-0 for Atlanta to miss the Eastern Conference’s seven-team playoff field.

Considering Cincinnati has scored one goal in three matches against Atlanta this season, netting eight or more seems unlikely.

Atlanta still could move up to fourth in the East and clinch a home playoff game with a victory Sunday, a New York City FC loss to Philadelphia and an Orlando loss or tie.

Atlanta had a chance to clinch a playoff berth Wednesday, however it played to a scoreless draw with the Red Bulls in Harrison, N.J.

“I feel like the mentality, the toughness, the winning duels, absorbing a lot of pressure and not conceding a goal is a big positive for the mentality of the team,” Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “That’s how you have to fight to get results in the end of the day. Obviously, the football needs to improve. But the mentality I liked.”

Cincinnati will be looking to end its season on a decent note.

“It’s playing for pride,” defender Chris Duvall said. “We need to have a chip on our shoulder and show people we shouldn’t be in the basement of this league and that we have something to play for because although the points aren’t going to make a difference, we want to make a difference for the fans.”

Atlanta holds a 4-1-2 record in the all-time series against FC Cincinnati. They last met Sept. 15 in Atlanta, with the hosts prevailing with a 4-0 decision.

–Field Level Media

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