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 Monday night with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.
Colombus have the home advantage when they take on Atlanta in this final game of a three-match series, after two crazy games saw them win one apiece to set this one up.
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
- Monday, 13th November
- Lower.com Field, Colombus, Ohio
- 20:00 ET kick-off
Season so far
Colombus had an excellent season in the end with a 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 (third most).
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.
The first game of the series between these two sides saw Colombus earn a 2-0 win thanks to a Cucho Hernandez brace, but Atalnta came right back at them in game 2 and made home advantage count.
Giorgios Giakoumakis opened the scoring before Hernandez equalized on the stroke of half-time, only for Xande Silva to put Atlanta back in front in first-half injury time. Edwin Mosquera and Thiago Almada made it 4-1 late on in the second half, before Max Arfsten nabbed a consolation.
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MLS picks: Colombus Crew to win Game 3 @ -163
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 19 goals and 11 assists in 29 games this 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's approach will replicate the first game more and will likely be a bit more pragmatic 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.
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MLS picks: Under 3.5 goals in Game 1 @ -105
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 in the regular season 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 the first game at Lower.com Field was more similar to that.
Obviously the second game in Atlanta was more open with a lot more goals and chances, but Colombus will no doubt be looking to avoid that. With a bit more control and such high stakes, expect a game more like the first in the series and less goals as a result of that.