Atlanta United hosted New York Red Bulls for a midweek conference matchup on Wednesday. Even though Josef Martínez scored his 100th MLS goal in his 150th match in all competitions for Atlanta United, the 5-Stripes couldn't quite catch up from a two-goal deficit and fell 2-1 to the Red Bulls.
First half – Atlanta United sends out attacking lineup, Red Bulls open the scoring
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda went with an attack-oriented starting lineup, sending out Josef Martínez, Ronaldo Cisneros, Luiz Araújo, Thiago Almada and Marcelino Moreno in his starting XI.
The home side controlled possession for the first 10 minutes of the match (73 percent), passing around New York’s high press. However, the Red Bulls continued to apply heavy pressure and created a takeaway. The Red Bulls missed a dangerous opportunity but came right back the next play. Midfielder Lewis Morgan finished off his chance from the center of the box to put the Red Bulls up 1-0 in the 11th minute.
It appeared that Red Bulls scored again in the 15th minute when defender John Tolkin knocked through a shot on a corner kick. The play was initially called back due to offsides. However, after VAR review, and a lengthy stoppage of play, the goal stood. New York went ahead by two goals.
Although the home side created a few attacking chances that excited the crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including a give-and-go that led to a shot from Moreno that required New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel to punch it away, Atlanta United couldn’t quite find the same composure it showed the first 10 minutes of the match and went into the second 45 trailing 2-0.
Second half – Atlanta United plays from behind, Josef Martínez scores in stoppage time
Pineda made a double halftime substitution, sending on defenders Brooks Lennon and Andrew Gutman for Ronald Hernández and Moreno. Lennon and Gutman filled in at fullback, which pushed starter Caleb Wiley up to the wing.
Atlanta United had a golden moment early in the half. A corner kick rebounded out to Almada, who sent it back inside the box. His cross found the head of defender Juanjo Purata, however the shot on goal went straight to the keeper.
In the 65th minute, Pineda sent on some fresh legs. Dom Dwyer and Edwin Mosquera replaced Cisneros and Wiley.
Two second-half subs connected on a chance for Atlanta United in the 75th minute. Gutman and Dwyer combined nicely and the play led to Gutman making a run inside the box, similar to how his goal against FC Cincinnati unfolded. Gutman fired, but it was blocked and Atlanta United earned a corner kick.
Midfielder Amar Sejdić entered the match for Santiago Sosa in the 85th minute.
Atlanta cut the deficit in half in second-half stoppage time. Araújo sent a through ball to Martínez. The striker connected to score his 100th goal in MLS play.
Atlanta United continued to fight for the equalizer but ran out of time to find the back of the net. The home side fell 2-1 to New York Red Bulls and ended the match without any points. Atlanta United remains winless against the Red Bulls in MLS regular season play.
Up next – Atlanta United returns to Ohio for an Eastern Conference matchup
It’s a double match week, so the 5-Stripes aren’t done. The team hits the road for another conference matchup, this time against Columbus Crew on Sunday.