Match Preview: Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls Wednesday, August 17

Atlanta United returns home on Wednesday for another big conference matchup against New York Red Bulls. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The team is feeling confident with its current run of going unbeaten in three consecutive matches. The latest was a hard-fought road draw at FC Cincinnati on Saturday. In the match, the 5-Stripes opened the scoring, on Thiago Almada’s curling strike that was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week. Atlanta conceded two goals to the home side, but in the 83rd minute, Andrew Gutman scored his second goal in as many matches to draw Atlanta even – and make MLS history.  

Now, every match feels like a must-win for Atlanta United. Entering Wednesday, Atlanta sits toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference table in 13th place but is only four points off the playoff line. With nine out of its final 10 matches against conference opponents, including two this week against Red Bulls and Columbus Crew, there’s still a lot left to play for in a tight Eastern Conference race.  

"It’s a very important week, but I think six points are on our minds,” striker Ronaldo Cisneros said on Tuesday. “We saw last game we were able to get a point on the road, but the Eastern Conference table is very tight, so we want to try and win all our games.”

Ronaldo-Cisneros_Training-Red-Bulls-Preview

Atlanta United Looking For Back-To-Back Home Wins 

Atlanta United enters the match ranked 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 7-9-8 record and 29 points in the table.  

Atlanta is positioned toward the bottom of the table but has been on a good run as of late. The team hasn’t been beaten in three straight matches and pulled out two road results in that span. The club has also lost only two of its last 19 MLS matches at home dating back to last September, so the team will be looking to get its first back-to-back home wins since the start of the 2022 season.   

“The thing that I like the most is the support of our fans, the unconditional support at all times, whether we’re winning or losing or drawing. I think we all feel that support on the field and we’re grateful for it,” Cisneros said. 

Managing Midweek Matches, and Andrew Gutman 

The club is entering a condensed part of its schedule. Atlanta United has four matches in two weeks, plus three midweek matches before the September international break. Wednesday against Red Bulls is the first of those midweek matches, which is a quick turnaround after playing on the road on Saturday.  

That means Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda is managing his players and trying to prevent them from being overloaded, and that includes Gutman. After playing a full 90 against FC Cincinnati, his head coach confirmed Gutman sat out of training on Tuesday as a precautionary measure.

Gutman will be assessed on Wednesday whether he’ll be available for the Red Bulls match. An extra day of rest may help, but if he’s not available then Pineda has several defenders he can call on to fill in on the backline, including veterans Ronald Hernández and Brooks Lennon along with Aiden McFadden.  

Creating Chaos In The Attacking Third 

Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls have met 12 times in MLS play. Red Bulls own the all-time series 8-1-4.

On June 30, Atlanta United traveled to Red Bull Arena for the first of the two meetings this season. The 5-Stripes played some of their best soccer of the season for 80 minutes, and Josef Martínez scored the first MLS goal in club history at Red Bull Arena. However, the home side scored two late goals and Atlanta’s unlucky run at the venue continued.

Pineda said that this time around, Atlanta’s game plan will be similar. Only this time, his team will look to move the ball a little bit faster and more directly to unbalance the opponent and cause “more chaos” in the attacking third. 

"We know the reputation of the Red Bulls,” Pineda said. “They’re a very good team on the high pressure. They like to press at a super high intensity all together, trying to block all the channels for passing lanes and stuff like that. And we just try to do it better than them on the buildup. And that’s the intention that we’ll have again, and we’ll try to be truthful to who we are as a team as much as they are going to be truthful to who they are as a team. And that’s the battle you always go in these types of games.”

Josef-Luiz_ATLatNYRB_June-30

Red Bulls On The Road  

The Red Bulls enter the matchup with Atlanta United as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They sit in the no. 4 spot with 37 points and a 10-8-7 record. 

While Atlanta’s last three results have them trending upward, the Red Bulls’ last three matches have been going in a different direction. New York has lost two of its last three, including a 5-4 loss to Colorado Rapids. The only result the Red Bulls earned in the previous three was a scoreless draw to last-place D.C. United. 

However, the Red Bulls have been one of the best in MLS on the road this season. They’re undefeated in four straight on the road. New York has earned 24 points and seven wins in away matches this season, second-best in the league behind Austin FC. 

And a lot has to be said for New York's style of play. The Red Bulls are known for their high press. Atlanta United will need to handle the pressure as well as they did for most of the previous matchup, which means crisp passing, especially on the backline, and controlling possession. 

“We’re going to need everyone’s efforts tomorrow,” Cisneros said. “Whether you’re starting or on the bench, we need good efforts from everyone on the team.”

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls
Possession
57.7% (2nd)
43.0% (26th)
Pass Percentage
85.3% (1st)
69.2% (28th)
Expected Goals per 90 Minutes
1.45 (t-9th)
1.45 (t-9th)
Interceptions
194 (26th)
278 (3rd)

Players To Watch

Thiago Almada – The designated player from Argentina has been having a great run for the 5-Stripes. He leads the team in assists (7) and scored a brilliant bender against FC Cincinnati. He’s also one of the best passers on the team, ranking in the 90th percentile or better in passes attempted, progressive passes and pass completion percentage. He’ll be an important player on Wednesday as Atlanta United looks to evade New York’s high press.

Thiago-Almada_ATLatCIN-NYRB-Preview

Lewis Morgan – The Scottish midfielder continues to lead New York Red Bulls in scoring this season with 10 goals and four assists. Even more, he likes scoring against Atlanta United. He scored his first career MLS goal against the 5-Stripes back in 2020 when he played for Inter Miami and also scored against Atlanta during the previous meeting back in June. 

Other Tidbits

  • Atlanta United will be wearing the BLVCK Kit on Wednesday.
  • No MLS player has been fouled more in the final third than Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno, who has been brought down 27 times in attacking areas.
  • Meet King! Prior to kickoff, Atlanta United's service dog will be holding a meet-and-greet, presented by Zep. Join us at the Front Porch just inside Gate 2 in front of the Falcon statue.