A disappointing night for Atlanta United on Sunday, falling in controversial fashion to the New York Red Bulls.
Tata Martino lined up the same squad that bested Orlando City on the road last week, with Brad Guzan’s return from suspension the only change in the starting lineup. Miles Robinson retained his place after a strong showing on the road, with Franco Escobar and Chris McCann still sidelined with injury. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Leandro González Pirez (LCB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Miles Robinson (RCB), Greg Garza (LWB), Jeff Larentowicz (CDM), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Julian Gressel (RWB), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Ezequiel Barco (ST), Josef Martinez (ST).
Atlanta United started strong, grabbing the game from the start and creating chances on the attacking end. Miguel Almirón had a good opportunity with a wicked left-foot shot that was just palmed away, then only a spectacular save could keep out Josef Martinez on a fast break behind the Red Bulls defense. Ezequiel Barco broke through in the 26th minute, with the young Argentine skipping across the box and playing a one-two with Miguel Almirón, whose deflected shot fell to the feet of Barco in the box. The 19-year-old was clinical from there, powering past the goalkeeper with a low thumping shot inside the near post.
Five minutes later came the first controversial decision of the night. It seemed like Josef Martinez had doubled the lead, but video review called back the goal for a foul on the Venezuelan. Ten minutes later, another controversial call would occur with Bradley Wright-Phillips drawing a foul in the box for a penalty converted just before the half, with a deflating 1-1 score heading into the halfway point.
Two minutes later, video review was used again, this time to overturn a red card decision against Jeff Larentowicz. But Atlanta United struggled to regain their momentum, with a four-minute dip in concentration turning the tide of the match. Bradley Wright-Phillips found the net twice, with close-range headers in the 51st and 55th minute making it a 3-1 score.
A 71st minute red card for Greg Garza put a comeback out of reach, with a 3-1 final score despite an extended stoppage time period where the Five Stripes kept fighting to get back into the game. A yellow card for Leandro González Pirez means he will join Garza with a one-match suspension for the following match against the New England Revolution.
Despite the loss, Atlanta United remains on the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings at the end of the weekend. They now get a 10-day stretch to recover and prepare for their next match on the road up north against the New England Revolution. They’ll return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium the following Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. Tickets to that match are available, make sure you’ve secured yours here.