Atlanta United vs. NYCFC Prediction, Preview and Odds- 10/20/21

Atlanta United vs. New York City

The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs race is heating up with 12 games on Wednesday, October 20, so we’re taking a closer look at the Eastern Conference showdown between Atlanta United and New York City. The stake is huge for both clubs, as they meet each other for the second time this season. Back in June, New York City outlasted Atlanta 1-0 as a firm -200 home fave, and the Pigeons will search for their third straight victory over the Five Stripes when they lock horns Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The Five Stripes eye their fifth straight home win

Atlanta United is coming off a 2-0 road victory at Toronto FC this past Saturday. It was the Five Stripes’ fifth win in the last seven games overall along with a couple of road losses at Club de Foot Montreal 2-1 and Philadelphia Union 1-0.

The Five Stripes have been outstanding since the end of July. They’ve won nine of their previous 13 games at any location, including their last four outings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta is now sitting at the fifth spot of the Eastern Conference standings with 42 points from 29 contests (W11, D9, L9) and a 39:33 goal difference, only a couple of points ahead of the No. 8 seed.

Striker Josef Martinez leads the way for Atlanta with ten goals in 19 appearances. He’s found the back of the net in three of his last four showings. Ezequiel Barco has seven goals and five assists on his tally, but the 22-year-old winger is slated to miss Wednesday’s clash due to a red card against Toronto last weekend.

The Pigeons are winless in five consecutive outings

New York City is coming off a tough 1-0 road loss at the New York Red Bulls this past Sunday. The Pigeons failed to score for the fourth straight outing, recording their third defeat in that stretch. Now, they are winless in five games in a row, and the Boys in Blue have earned only six points over their previous nine contests at any location.

The Pigeons are sitting at the eighth spot of the Eastern Conference table with 40 points from 29 games (W11, D7, L11) and a 44:33 goal difference. They are just a point behind Club de Foot Montreal and DC United.

New York City desperately needs more from its offense. All eyes are on Valentin Castellanos, who’s scored 13 goals in 27 MLS appearances so far this season. The 23-year-old striker also has seven assists on his tally, while midfielder Maxi Moralez is the team’s best assist-maker with nine dishes in 25 games.

Pick: Draw

The bookies expect to see a tight clash, setting the hosts as small +150 favorites to earn three points. Atlanta United is certainly in a much better form than New York City, but the Pigeons have a lot of talent at their disposal, while the Five Stripes are without their best player.

The Five Stripes prefer to keep the ball in possession and take things patiently. The visitors will lean on counter-attacks and could easily escape with a point. Both teams should be cautious, considering a huge stake, so I’m going with a draw at +250. If someone breaks the deadlock, the other side will have to push forward in numbers, and the hosts will defend should they score first.

Total: Under 3.0 goals

I’m expecting a hard-fought battle with no more than a couple of goals in total. Of course, you can never know what can happen on a given day, and goals in soccer often come from nowhere. But these two foes should stay focused for all 90 minutes and take good care of their goalkeepers.

I’ve mentioned the Pigeons’ offensive woes. Each of their last five games saw fewer than three goals on the scoreboard. On the other side, the Five Stripes kept their net intact in five of their last five games at home. Three of their last four contests overall produced less than three goals in total.

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Admir Aljic

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