Atlanta United will try to secure their first four-game unbeaten run of 2022 when they host a New York Red Bulls side struggling in attack on Wednesday night.
Late goals from Andrew Gutman have boosted Atlanta in its last two matches.
Gutman's exceptional long-range strike in second-half stoppage time decided a 2-1 home victory over the Seattle Sounders two games ago. Then he leveled late in a 2-2 draw at FC Cincinnati last Saturday, finishing off a chance created by Josef Martinez's pass.
Despite those results, Atlanta (7-9-8, 29 points) remained in 13th place in a crowded Eastern Conference table, four points back of the seventh and final playoff place.
Manager Gonzalo Pineda expressed disappointment his team couldn't earn back-to-back wins in Cincinnati, but also confidence in his team's recent mentality.
"The grind that the team showed at the end, trying to win, even in the last play we tried to win, that's the desire I want from my team," Pineda said. "And I felt that today we did a very good job in many, many aspects but we couldn't reward ourselves with three points."
The Red Bulls (10-8-7, 37 points) visit after failing to score in back-to-back league games for the first time this season.
Notably, that failure in a 0-0 draw at D.C. United two weekends ago and a 1-0 home loss to Orlando last Saturday followed two four-goal performances.
The latter of those was a wild 5-4 home loss to Colorado, making it three games without a victory for manager Gerhard Struber's club.
The Red Bulls still sit fourth in the East, but Struber knows his team can't afford to continue their slide.
"I think we need to, especially at the moment, pick up each other, (show) big belief to bounce back," Struber said after the Orlando loss. "I think this is also a big mental test for us at the moment to find better results."
The center forward position continues to be a problem for New York.
Winger Lewis Morgan has 10 goals and attacking midfielder Luquinhas has five. But the combination of Patryk Klimala, Tom Barlow and Serge Ngoma have only 10 goals combined playing at the top of Struber's formation.
--Field Level Media