Following a tough road load against Toronto, Atlanta United continues its current three-game road trip with the first of two matchups in the New York/New Jersey metro area. The 5-Stripes face New York Red Bulls first on Thursday night at Red Bull Arena. Atlanta is looking for its first-ever win in that stadium, but it won’t be easy against a Red Bulls side that currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta United enters in 10th place with a 5-6-4 record, while the Red Bulls own a 7-5-5 mark to sit seven points ahead of Atlanta. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against New York Red Bulls.
Focus and Accuracy to break New York’s Press
Red Bull Arena has mostly been a house of horrors for Atlanta United throughout its existence. The 5-Stripes have never won at Red Bull Arena and have yet to find the back of the net. It was, however, the sight of one of the club’s biggest triumphs in 2018, when Atlanta clinched the Eastern Conference title at Red Bull Arena, 3-1 on aggregate despite losing the second leg, 1-0.
Atlanta will have to rely on one of their strengths all season long to break down New York’s high intensity pressure. When the Red Bulls are given the opportunity to tighten the screws on you, especially in your own defensive third, that’s when the 5-Stripes need to produce crisp passes to break that pressure and switch the play quickly to unbalance New York. Atlanta leads MLS with an 85.4% passing accuracy on the season. If they can produce another match with that kind of passing accuracy, that will go a long way to earning that elusive first victory at Red Bull Arena.
Keep Morgan, Klimala and the rest of New York attack in front of you
The New York Red Bulls don’t offer many secrets. As one of the members of the Red Bull sports organization, their playing style and high intensity pressure is known across the globe. That style has proven successful throughout the years, and while the cast of characters may change, the end result is one of the more consistent teams in MLS.
In particular, two players that Atlanta United’s defense needs to keep an eye on are Lewis Morgan and Patryk Klimala. Morgan was acquired from Inter Miami where he had some success against Atlanta previously. This year he has seven goals and two assists. Klimala checks in with four goals and three assists. They both have taken advantage of New York’s more direct approach. It will be key for Atlanta United’s backline to keep those guys in front of them and win the individual duels to keep the Red Bulls off the scoresheet.
Keep Feeding Araújo
It’s no secret that designated players are difference makers in MLS. One of Atlanta United’s DP’s, Brazilian winger Luiz Araújo, has been finding his attacking form as of late. Araújo has scored in back-to-back MLS games for the second time in his early Atlanta career. Counting the American Family Insurance Cup, he’s scored in three matches on the trot. His combination of speed, dribbling and finishing has allowed him to step up over the last few weeks. If Atlanta can handle New York’s press, break the initial line of defense and then feed Araújo, good things will follow. Araújo has already equaled his goal tally from last season, scoring four goals in 10 matches this year (compared to four goals in 15 matches last year).
Fans can tune in to the match at New York Red Bulls locally on Bally Sports Southeast with kickoff set for 8:00pm ET. To tune in on radio fans can listen to Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor Atlanta AM 1600 (Spanish).