NYCFC vs Atlanta United preview: How to watch, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Photo: Atlanta United official website

NYCFC host Atlanta United in the first round of the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs at Yankee Stadium.

The Boys In Blue are on a five-match unbeaten run as they earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference while the fifth-seeded Red and Black are also hot, going six matches without a loss entering this playoff contest.

Team news

NYCFC will be without Anton Tinnerholm, out for the season with an Achilles injury, Keaton Parks and Nicolas Acevedo, both absent with lower body injuries as well as Gedion Zelalem, suspended after picking up a red card in the season finale against Philadelphia.

Alexander Callens is questionable with a lower body issue.

Emerson Hyndman is Atlanta's only absentee as he recovers from an ACL injury.

Predicted lineups

NYCFC: Johnson; Amundsen, Callens, Chanot, Gray; Sands, Morales; Moralez; Rodriguez, Castellanos, Medina

Atlanta United: Guzan; Walkes, Franco, Robinson; Bello, Rossettom Ibarra, Lennon; Barco, Martinez, Araujo

Ones to watch

Valentin Castellanos (NYCFC)

He earned the Golden Boot award as the league's top scorer with 19 goals, also contributing eight assists and is the most dangerous striker in the playoffs. The Argentine has netted six times over the last four games, powering the Boys In Blue heading into the postseason.

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Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

After some early-season drama surrounding the striker and the old coaching staff, the Spaniard was back to his old self once Gonzalo Pineda was appointed, professing his love for the club. He's the player the Red and Black will be counting on if they are to have a deep playoff run.

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Previous meetings

This is the third matchup between NYCFC and Atlanta United with the Boys In Blue winning one and the other contest ending in a draw.

In June, a 69th-minute strike by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was the only goal of the match in a 1-0 victory at Red Bull Arena while Gudmundur Thorarinsson's 90th-minute equalizer cancelled out Marcelino Moreno's opener in a 1-1 draw in Atlanta just a month ago.

How to watch

The match will be televised nationally on ABC. Spanish-language coverage is available on ESPN Deportes. Kickoff is set for 3pm Eastern time.