Behind several outstanding saves from Brad Guzan, Atlanta United battled New York Red Bulls to a 0-0 draw on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in a possible preview of a first-round playoff matchup.
The draw, combined with a 3-2 win by Chicago over Philadelphia, dropped the Five Stripes (15-9-9) into fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference with one game remaining in the regular season. The team is two points behind second-place NYCFC, which was beaten 2-1 by New England, and one point behind the Fire. The Red Bulls (13-12-8) remain in the sixth and final playoff spot.
The first- and second-place teams will receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The third- and fourth-place teams will host games against the fifth and sixth seeds in the first round, which is a knockout format.
Atlanta United will try to pass both Chicago and NYCFC when it hosts Toronto, the league’s best team this season, on Oct. 22. Atlanta United has posted on social media that it has surpassed the record-setting attendance game against Orlando in which more than 71,000 tickets were sold. The roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also scheduled to be open for the first time for a soccer game, if the weather permits.
Toronto has already clinched the Supporter’s Shied for earning the most points during the regular season and has locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta United and Toronto drew 2-2 in their first meeting in April. Atlanta United played that game without Josef Martinez, who was injured.
Guzan saved Atlanta United numerous times in the second half as New York pulled apart Atlanta United’s defense with clever passing and movement.
Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who leads the league in assists, got free in the 64th minute to put in a low cross from the left side toward Bradley Wright-Phillips that Guzan somehow tipped over the bar.
Guzan then saved a point-blank header from Gonzalo Veron, who came in for Wright-Phillips.