Major League Soccer

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Gonzalo Pineda has praised the mental toughness of his Atlanta United FC players as they look to confirm their MLS Cup Playoffs spot on Decision Day.

The Five Stripes battled to a goalless draw at New York Red Bulls in midweek to keep possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

United now need a win or draw at MLS' bottom side FC Cincinnati on Sunday to make certain of postseason football. A loss by fewer than eight goals would also be enough.

The importance of the point against the Red Bulls last time out therefore cannot be overstated, with Atlanta now focused on nailing down home-field advantage in the playoffs.

"I feel like the mentality, the toughness, the winning duels, absorbing a lot of pressure, and not conceding a goal is a big positive for the mentality of the team," Pineda said.

"That's how you have to fight to get results at the end of the day. Obviously, the football needs to improve. But the mentality I liked in the last game."

Cincinnati are playing for nothing other than pride, unable to finish any higher than bottom of the overall standings in what has been a poor campaign.

Tyrone Marshall replaced Jaap Stam in September but has been unable to lift results, with his side on an 11-game losing run heading into their final fixture.

"It's been a challenging journey for myself, and the coaches who took the baton and stepped up in terms of seeing out the season with the boys that they have here," Marshall said.

"We keep moving. Would I say I'm relieved my time in charge is coming to an end? No, I'm a competitor, I want to keep going as long as I can.

"I'm appreciative of the club for giving me the opportunity and for the guys who are helping out in the back room. Hopefully we can finish off on a good note."

FC Cincinnati - Geoff Cameron

The Orange and Blue have conceded 72 goals this season, which is just three shy of the MLS record they set themselves in 2019. That is not something veteran defender Cameron will want on his CV, and he will be desperate to give fans something to cheer about at the end of a challenging first season back in MLS.

Atlanta United FC - Josef Martinez

The Five Stripes offered next to no attacking threat against the Red Bulls, managing just two shots in total with the defensive side of their game being prioritized. That will not be the case at TQL Stadium, however, with this game providing Martinez with a chance to add to his tally of 11 goals for the season.

- FC Cincinnati have won one of the seven all-time meetings between the sides (D2 L4), a 1-0 victory at MLS is Back in July 2020. Atlanta have collected four points in two visits to Cincinnati, with the meeting there on July 21 ending in a 1-1 draw.

- Cincinnati have set an MLS record with 11 consecutive 90-minute losses (excluding breakaway shootouts). The MetroStars lost 12 straight games in July-September 1999, though two of those defeats were on breakaway shootouts after a draw.

- While Atlanta are unbeaten in five straight matches (W2 D3), the last two have ended in draws. This is the first time Atlanta have gone winless in consecutive matches since the club-record 12-match winless run from May 23 to August 4.

- Cincinnati have allowed at least three goals 13 times this season, tied for the most such games in a single season in MLS history.

- Martinez has scored five times in four career matches against Cincinnati, scoring at least once in all three starts against them. Martinez has averaged a goal every 55.8 minutes against Cincinnati in his MLS career.

Updated November 6, 2021

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