Their opponents, though, have more on the line. As any team would, Atlanta desperately want to avoid the knockout round (and they especially want to avoid having to play it on the road). This game against the Supporters’ Shield champions is a must-win for them if they want to come second in the Eastern Conference.
TFC still need a strong performance, though. They haven't quite looked their dominant selves lately, and that's something they'll need to get back to as the playoffs approach. The atmosphere in Atlanta will be suitably intimidating, with over 70,000 in attendance. A win here could be a great slump breaker.
I expect a strong lineup. Let's consider what Greg Vanney might go with on Sunday.
He's the guy. He had a bit of a hot and cold game against Montreal if I'm honest; he made a few exceptional saves and the clean sheet is attributable entirely to him, but his distribution was very sloppy (the wind certainly didn't help, of course). Hopefully he'll get back on the horse in terms of clearing the ball out to his defenders.
Chris Mavinga, Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta
I will never stop calling for Hagglund to get a start. This time, I'll predict him coming in for Drew Moor, who was bitten by a combination of the wind and his height last weekend. Hagglund has looked good every time he's come on as a sub; it's time he gets a proper go.
Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Nicolas Hasler
The fact that Hasler started against Montreal suggests to me that he might have an edge in the battle with Steven Beitashour. That's probably fair; he's looked great, and he offers quite a bit more creativity going forward. At this late stage, I think Vanney will continue to ride the hot hand and keep Hasler in.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Vanney said this week that we're beyond the point in the season where he'd make lineup decisions based on the field they're playing on. Despite the turf, Seba will probably be in the lineup.
I don't think there's anything that TFC need more right now than a couple goals from Giovinco. He needs to reinstate his authority, and get up to speed quickly. Seba had some very good moments against Montreal, but also some very frustrating moments.
As for Altidore, I think we've seen a couple signs of the beast stirring. Especially against the New York Red Bulls, he's been using his strength in the box and drawing defenders. TFC definitely need more of that.