Atlanta United is eager to bounce back after a tough midweek road loss –– and that opportunity comes this weekend against one of their biggest rivals in the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have historically been one of Atlanta United’s toughest opponents, but the Five Stripes came out 3-0 winners in postseason play the last time these two met in Atanta. The red, black and gold will hope to take advantage of a team that has struggled on the road this season in front of a packed house of rowdy and proud fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The match kicks off at 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FOX. For details on how to follow the match, click here.
Atlanta United (9-7-2)
The Five Stripes may be coming off a loss, but their recent form is strong, with wins in five of their last seven matches. Another three points this weekend could push them into second place in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind the leaders with a match in hand.
This weekend could mark the welcome return of Josef Martinez, who traveled back to Atlanta earlier this week after representing his country against the world’s best at the Copa America in Brazil last month. Brandon Vazquez has filled in admirably to lead the line, but Josef’s 10 goals this season leads the team –– and adding the reigning MVP to your lineup is a boost for any roster. Sunday’s match will come too soon Ezequiel Barco, who was injured in last month’s U.S. Open Cup win over Columbus, with coach De Boer confirming Friday he will be held out this week. But with the likes of Pity Martínez, Julian Gressel, Justin Meram and Dion Pereira ready to fill in the front line, there will be plenty of attacking weapons on the pitch for this weekend's match.
The Atlanta United back line will be without a mainstay in the defense, with Leandro González Pirez suspended after his red card against Chicago on Wednesday. But with captain Michael Parkhurst and Florentin Pogba both fit and ready to go, the team has options to replace him. Meanwhile, expect Miles Robinson to take his usual spot in the back line, with Franco Escobar, Brek Shea and Parkhurst all ready to fill in on the wings. And of course defending is a team effort, especially against a team like the Red Bulls, so the likes of Eric Remedi, Jeff Larentowicz and Darlington Nagbe will be key in the midfield to stop New York’s attacking momentum. All in all, there are plenty of defensive options for a team looking to bounce back from a tough loss. And with only one goal conceded in their last six matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they’ll be hoping to turn their home field into a fortress once again.
New York Red Bulls (8-7-3)
The New York Red Bulls sit two points and two spots below Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference so far this year. While they’ve been one of Atlanta’s most challenging opponents, they’ve struggled on the road this year with four losses in their six matches away from Red Bull Arena this year. That includes a stinging loss of their own on the road Wednesday, where they conceded four straight goals without one of their own against the Houston Dynamo.
The first question comes up top, where head coach Chris Armas has opted for youngster Brian White in the starting role as longtime talisman Bradley Wright-Phillips returns from his injury troubles. But with two appearances off the bench, the #99 could be ready to return to his starting role. They will be without playmaker Kaku, who was sent off for an altercation with Houston’s Maynor Figueroa in stoppage time on Wednesday after the Dynamo’s fourth goal of the match. But the danger man will be Daniel Royer, with the Austrian winger being rested in the midweek match against Houston. He was the one who provided the match-winning assist against Atlanta United at Red Bull Arena earlier this season, and will be the key figure to shut down in the Red Bulls attack.
There will be more absences for the Red Bulls in the back line, starting with fullback Michael Murillo, who was also sent off after a second yellow card against Houston on Wednesday. Meanwhile, center back Tim Parker is expected to miss a second straight match with a foot injury of his own. Fullback Kemar Lawrence is one of the best fullbacks in the league and has been a consistent thorn in Atlanta United’s side. He has been away representing Jamaica at the Gold Cup, but could make his return at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend in front of Luis Robles, one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league. Regardless of their form, Atlanta United fans know their players will still put up a strong fight against the Five Stripes as both teams look to fight their way up the table in the Eastern Conference back to first place.
With plenty of history between both teams already, you can expect a physical, aggressive game as both teams look for redemption from tough midweek losses at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Make sure you’re cheering on the Five Stripes in the latest edition of this tantalizing Eastern Conference matchup. It all kicks off at 2 p.m. ET Sunday; tickets are available here, or click here for all the ways to tune in.