Brooks Lennon has highlighted Atlanta United's three remaining away games as the key to their playoff push.
The Five Stripes have been much improved since the departure of Gabriel Heinze, with interim boss Rob Valentino and, now, Gonzalo Pineda guiding them up to eight in the Eastern Conference.
Just a single point now separates the 2018 MLS Cup champions from CF Montreal, NYCFC and DC United in the final three playoff spots. But to climb above the playoff line, Atlanta are going to have to overturn a pretty dismal away record.
Across 14 road games this season, the Five Stripes have won just twice, picking up 12 points - only four teams in the East have accumulated less. Atlanta have lost their last two away games against the Philadelphia Union (1-0) and CF Montreal (2-1).
Ahead of Saturday's trip to Toronto FC, Lennon spoke of the importance of gaining points on the road, considering three of their final six regular-season matches are away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“The last two times on the road haven’t been good enough, so we got three home and three away and those three away we really need to pick up points and do everything we can to climb up the table,” Lennon told reporters.
Pineda says striker Josef Martinez's fitness is still being evaluated on a 'day-to-day' basis. However, the likes of Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno and Luiz Araujo have been in superb form recently and have enough talent between them to match any side in MLS on their day.
“We work enough at different possibilities,” Pineda said of Martinez's potential absence with a hamstring injury.
Indeed, Lennon looks around his teammates and sees absolutely no reason why they can't jump into the top seven and go far in the post-season thereafter.
“You see the quality that we have in this team and there’s no reason why we can’t get in the playoffs and make a deep push," he added.
Atlanta United beat Toronto 1-0 in the two sides' previous meeting earlier this season. This weekend's clash is one of two in October, though with the Canadian side near the foot of the East, the points likely matter far more to the Five Stripes.