The MLS season has reached the business end as the first round of the playoffs is upon us, where Colombus Crew will play host to Atlanta United at Lower.com Field on Wednesday night.
Third-placed Colombus have the home advantage when they take on sixth-placed Atlanta in this first game of a three-match series, with a place in the semi-finals against either Orlando or Nashville up for grabs.
We'll take a look at the match-up and provide you with our best free soccer betting picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while you enjoy the action.
Learn more about how to bet on the MLS playoffs here.
Colombus Crew vs Atlanta United information
- Game 1: Wednesday, 1st November 2023 @ Lower.com Field, 19:30 kick-off
- Game 2: Wednesday, 8th November 2023 @ Mercedes-Benz Arena, 20:00 kick-off
- Game 3 (if necessary): Monday, 13th November @ Lower.com Field, 20:00 kick-off
Season so far
Colombus had an excellent season in the end, after a difficult start to proceedings saw them lose four of the opening ten games of the campaign. Overall they ended the regular season in third place, with 16 wins from 34 games plus nine draws and nine defeats with a goal difference of +21, which was the best in the Eastern Conference.
They started with a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia Union before a win over Wayne Rooney's DC United in game 2. Their next win came three games later, where they thrashed Atlanta United 6-1 at home to start a three-game winning streak where they scored 12 goals and conceded just once.
After that however followed a run of just one win in seven games, which came against LA Galaxy, but they lost to Charlotte FC, Inter Miami CF, FC Cincinnati and Nashville as well as being held to draws by New England Revolution and Orlando City.
They addressed their issues though and coach Wilfried Nancy made a few changes, which saw them go on an eight-game unbeaten run that included five wins. They then lost three of their next seven games, before ending the season with a six-game unbeaten run which included a 1-1 draw with Atlanta in the penultimate game as they secured their spot in the post-season.
Atlanta on the other hand didn't have the best of seasons by their own pre-season expectations as they finished in sixth-place, with 13 wins, nine losses and 13 draws having scored 66 goals (second only to Colombus' 67) and conceded 53 - the third most behind only bottom two teams Toronto FC (59) and Inter Miami (54).
They started the season brilliantly with four wins in the opening six games as they beat San Jose Earthquakes, Charlotte FC, Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls. However they managed just one win in their next six, including three defeats in a row against Nashville, Inter Miami and Charlotte.
Their biggest issue this season was too many draws, and it showed during the next period of the season with with draws in six games including four in a row against Chicago Fire, Orlando City, New England Revolution and LA FC.
They only managed six wins in the rest of the season over 14 games, losing just four and drawing a further four as their failure to close out games came back to bite them. They're winless in their last three games heading into this series, having finished the season with a loss to Philadelphia Union before two more draws against Colombus and Cincinnati.
MLS picks: Colombus Crew to win Game 1 @ -143
Colombus Crew don't have a true superstar among their ranks but they do have some very good players, including the brilliant Cucho Hernandez who managed 16 goals and 11 assists in 27 games this season.
Surprisingly though despite the Crew scoring seven goals against Atlanta this season, he managed just one in the dead rubber at the end of the regular season and the Atlanta defense seems to have his number. United on the other hand have got two genuine superstars in the MLS with Georgios Giakoumakis and Thiago Almada who combined for 28 goals and 22 assists during the regular season.
However while both teams can score freely, Atlanta really struggle defensively and with the home-field advantage going to Colombus they will have a big edge in this game. They're in far better form going forward and are well-rested coming into the game.
Nancy will likely be a bit more pragmatic with his approach rather than going gung-ho because of the quality that Atlanta have, especially in offensive areas, and that should see them come out on top in a tight game to take the series lead.
MLS picks: Under 2.5 goals in Game 1 @ +140
This may seem like an odd bet between the two top-scoring teams in not only the Eastern Conference this season but the entire MLS, but there is logic behind it.
The last meeting between these teams ended 1-1 with an approach from both coaches to try and nullify the opponent more than emphasize their own strengths, and in a best-of-three game series here this is arguably the most important game for Atlanta to not lose.
It avoids a win-or-go-home situation at home for them, and with Colombus knowing they will have a game three at home should it come to it don't expect either team to really go all-out. With such good value on the under for this game, take it and prepare for a more cagey affair than they had at the start of the season when it ended 6-1.
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