New York City FC midfielder Valentin Castellanos, rear, attempts a shot against Inter Miami goalkeeper John McCarthy, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, during the second half of an MLS soccer match in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Fourth-seeded New York City hosts fifth-seeded Atlanta United on Sunday, November 21st
Atlanta won both legs of their only MLS playoff meeting, back in 2018
Read on for betting odds, a full preview and the best bet for this MLS playoff match
The MLS playoffs roll on this Sunday, November 21st, with this matchup at Yankee Stadium, as New York City FC welcomes Atlanta United to one of baseball’s most iconic venues for a 3 p.m. ET first-round matchup.
This will be just the second playoff meeting between these two squads, with Atlanta winning both home and away in their two-legged tie in 2018, which Atlanta won on its way to winning the MLS Cup.
NYCFC vs Atlanta Odds
New York City FC vs Atlanta United
NYC -1.5 (+230) | ATL +1.5 (-270)
NYC -140 | ATL +400 | DRAW +285
Ov 3.5 (+215) | Un 3.5 (-275)
Odds as of November 21st at DraftKings
Can Castellanos Keep Firing?
Key to NYCFC’s playoff chances will be the form of Taty Castellanos, who was this week awarded the Golden Boot as top scorer in MLS this season. The Argentine scored 19 goals this season, and laid on another eight assists, playing an active role in almost half of City’s 56 regular-season goals this year.
With nobody else into double figures in the goal-scoring stakes, Castellanos will likely have to stay fit, and keep scoring, for New York City’s playoff run to grow any legs.
Pigeons Currently Flying
After a September to forget, when NYCFC won just one, and lost four, of their seven games, Ronny Deila’s team responded well in October, winning three straight and going five unbeaten to head into the playoffs.
Get ready for Round 1 of #MLSCupPlayoffs with our Top Goals vs. Atlanta, presented by @etihad ⚽️🎥 #NYCFC pic.twitter.com/GOstlqaMoJ
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) November 20, 2021
Add to that one of the best home records in MLS, with the team going 10-3-4 at Yankee Stadium, and the Pigeons will be well set heading into today’s game.
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Atlanta Holds Edge
Both historically in the MLS playoffs, and in head-to-head matchups in the regular season, Atlanta United holds the edge in this matchup.
Atlanta won the most important matchup between the pair, in the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals, winning the first leg 1-0 at Yankee Stadium before wrapping up the two-legged tie with a 3-1 win at home. However, that playoff win remains Atlanta’s only win on the hallowed turf of Yankee Stadium.
In other meetings, Atlanta have gone 0-3-1 in New York, scoring just three goals and conceding nine in the process. At home, Atlanta has gone 2-0-2, scoring eight and conceding five. In two meetings this season, NYCFC won the first at home, while the teams finished honors even in Atlanta.
New York City FC vs Atlanta United 2021 Stats
2021 MLS Record
Expected Goals Against
Form This Season
While Atlanta will need just its second-ever win in the Bronx if it hopes to advance in this year’s playoffs, it does boast the league’s longest unbeaten streak, currently riding a six-game streak which is tied with Vancouver for the longest entering the postseason.
Whatever happens to #ATLUTD from this point on, just remember this was the table after Gabriel Heinze’s final game
2 wins from 13, just 13 goals scored and 7 points below the Playoffs
Rob Valentino and Gonzalo Pineda have worked wonders 👏
📈 via @Transfermarkt pic.twitter.com/GJ65rZllDg
— Chris Smith (@CJSmith91) November 7, 2021
Much of that is down to the Gonzalo Pineda effect. Since replacing Gabriel Heinze as head coach on August 12, Pineda has reinvigorated the team, helping it pick up 33 points in that time, tied with New England, Vancouver, and Colorado for the most in MLS over that spell.
The team lost just three of its final 16 regular-season games, capped by coming from behind to win on the road for just the second time in franchise history with a 2-1 victory at Cincinnati.
NYCFC vs Atlanta United Pick
Given how important scoring the opening goal is to picking up a win, particularly in tight games like playoffs, expect both teams to employ a cautious approach here, and don’t be surprised if it goes beyond regulation, just like the New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union match on Saturday.
Best bet: Draw (+285)