Atlanta United (8-2-1) are looking to defend their place at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings as they host the New York Red Bulls (6-3-0) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday night. While Atlanta leads the Eastern Conference, New York is riding on a three-game win streak and will look to keep their unbeaten record alive against the Five Stripes. You may already know about their attacking duo in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kaku, but here’s what else you can expect to see from the Red Bulls this weekend:
The Young Leader
While most of the time the strongest leaders on the field are the most experienced, older than the majority of the team – it’s not the case with midfielder Tyler Adams. The 19-year-old Homegrown signing made his MLS debut in 2016 and enjoyed his first full season as a consistent starter just last year. He’s often described by his teammates and coaches – both at the club and international levels – as much more mature than his age, and was rewarded with the captains armband for his club side for a match earlier this year. That maturity is apparent on the field as the teenager boasts all the characteristics of a versatile, veteran midfielder: he’s vocal, composed, poised on the ball, brings energy and workrate and is an elite passer with a soccer IQ that out-masters even more experienced opponents. As one of the most promising pieces for the U.S. Men’s National Team puzzle, Adams is not only a talent, he’s a leader, and he will again be the heartbeat of the Red Bulls midfield on Sunday night.
The Dynamic Attacker
While Bradley-Wright Phillips led the team in goals last season as he has almost every year, don’t sleep on New York’s other primary scoring threat in forward Daniel Royer. After joining in the summer transfer window of 2016, the 27-year-old Austrian burst onto the scene last season, recording 12 goals and three assists from the wing. Quick, technically gifted, and with a nose for goal, the forward is extremely dangerous along the flank. It’s easy for him fly under the radar with BWP attracting a lot of the defensive attention, but Five Stripes fans who attended their inaugural match last year won’t soon forget Royer as the one who sparked the comeback to spoil their historic season opener. He’ll try to crash the Atlanta party again as the Red Bulls look to knock off the red, black, & gold from the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.
The Defensive Core
There’s a reason Jesse Marsch’s side has finished top of the East in two of the past three seasons and has yet to miss playoffs since he took charge. New York is electric in the attack, but perhaps more impressively disciplined on defense, and they’re proving it again this season. The Red Bulls rank 3rd in MLS in goals conceded (11) and are tied with Atlanta for the best goal-differential in the league. While they sit just 5th in the conference table, they have at least one game in hand over all the opponents ahead of them. Their defensive unit is led by two towering, vocal, intelligent center backs in Tim Parker and Aaron Long, and what they may lack in pace, their wingbacks Kemar Lawrence and Michael Murillo bring plenty to cover. And if the unit wasn’t complete enough, the back four are backed by long-time Red Bulls player and 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Luis Robles. New York have only allowed one goal in two meetings with Atlanta, and they’ll hope to keep that stat stationary on Sunday night.
This weekend’s match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 20th, and will be nationally broadcast on FS1. Click here for everything you need to know about how to follow along from home.