ATLANTA, GEORGIA (November 25, 2018) – Following a win and a scoreless draw during the season, the New York Red Bulls met Atlanta United FC in the Eastern Conference Finals. Atlanta made swift work of defeating NYCFC over two legs. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls had to overcome a deficit to get past Columbus Crew. At the final whistle RBNY found themselves down again going into a second leg, 3-0.
New York Red Bulls Shaken by Atlanta United 3-0
Entering with a Disadvantage
Both teams spent the International break missing valuable players. Red Bull defender Kemar Lawrence was out of the lineup following an injury picked up in training. Four players from Atlanta had a suspension looming over them if they received a yellow card during this match. The question was which team would handle their situation coming into the match,
Atlanta Strikes First
While Atlanta kept the ball near RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles, they were unable to capitalize in the first fifteen minutes of play. Rather it was a mometary lapse after the half hour mark that opened the scoring. Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez collected a ball from Jeff Larentowicz and chipped it over RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 32nd minute.
A breakaway from Darlington Nagbe threatened to double the lead. At the last moment Robles cleared the ball from under Julian Gressel. Robles punched away another strike to maintain the scoreline for the rest of the half.
No Comeback Allowed
Red Bull striker Bradley Wright-Phillips seemingly leveled the match in the 53rd minute, but the goal was called back with the Video Assisted Referee. Instead, Atlanta doubled the lead in the 72nd minute. Franco Escobar, left unattended, put the ball in the back of the net. Substitutes Derrick Etienne, Jr., Marc Rzatkowski and Brian White were valuable fresh legs in the eight minutes of stoppage time. But it was Atlanta substitute Tito Villalba who sewed up the game with a third goal in the final minutes of the match. The second leg will be played at Red Bull Arena Thursday November 29th.
- Fans were in for a wild ride. The #1 and #2 teams were bound to set of sparks. The game saw its share of shoving and shouting. Red Bull midfielder Alex Muyl complained of a serious scratch to his chest near the end of the first half. The second leg is bound to be at least as exciting.
- The Red Bulls returned to Harrison down a goal in the last round. They were able to stage a comeback with hardly any trepidation. Being down three goals is an different issue entirely. It should have never gotten to that point, but there is nothing to be done about that.