A night to forget for Atlanta United, who fell 4-1 on the road at Yankee Stadium Wednesday.
With Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco missing from the starting lineup, and Julian Gressel still feeling the effects of the weekend’s match, Frank de Boer had to shuffle his pack against the top-ranked team in the East. Tito Villalba returned to the starting lineup for the first time since his injury earlier this season, with Brandon Vazquez coming into the lineup in place of Josef Martinez. The full Starting XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Florentin Pogba (DEF), Leandro González Pirez (DEF), Miles Robinson (DEF), Franco Escobar (DEF), Eric Remedi (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Emerson Hyndman (MID), Tito Villalba (FWD), Brandon Vazquez (FWD), Pity Martínez (FWD).
Atlanta United traded early blows with the hosts, with Franco Escobar getting to the byline and nearly finding Brandon Vazquez in the middle. Vazquez had another chance a few minutes later, getting on the end of a through ball on the right but only getting his shot into the side netting. But a tough 20 minutes for the Five Stripes all but put the match out of reach. It was all Alexandru Mitrita, first cutting in from the left and curling a shot from outside the box past the outstretched arm of Brad Guzan in the Atlanta United net. Ten minutes later, Mitrita found another opening in the 23rd minute, cutting in from the left side against and beating Guzan off the post and in. It went from bad to worse in the 34th minute, with Guzan getting his hands to a save at the far-post, with Mitrita getting to the rebound first to seal a first-half hat trick.
Atlanta United came out of the halftime break with more energy, and it looked like they could start a little momentum with just a few minutes on the clock. Pity Martínez played a nice through ball into the path of Brandon Vazquez in the NYCFC penalty area, who cut back inside only to be taken down by the NYCFC defender. Pity Martínez stepped up and hit an unstoppable penalty to cut the deficit by one just a few minutes into the second half.
Atlanta United kept fighting through the deficit, and had some sustained pressure on the NYCFC goal in the second half. But with the clock ticking down they couldn’t find the second goal, and NYCFC made them pay just minutes before the final whistle. NYCFC’s Heber got onto a loose clearance from Leandro González Pirez and dribbled past Guzan to make it a 4-1 final score.
Now it’s time for the squad to put this match behind them with another crucial road match coming up this weekend. They travel to Montreal for their final road match of the regular season on Sunday before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the regular season finale against the New England Revolution the following weekend. With postseason seeding still up for grabs, each match is vital. Make sure you’re there to root them on for the final match by reserving your tickets here.