Recap: Atlanta United 1, Red Bulls 2

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by ANTHONY J. MERCED

The New York Red Bulls started their 2017 Major League Soccer season with a gritty 2-1 win over expansion Atlanta United in front of more than 55,000 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday night.

Late goals by Daniel Royer and Bradley Wright-Phillips saved New York, which was outplayed for most of the contest.

Atlanta came out organized and dangerous, giving little away with crisp passing and timely counter attacks. New York looked tired and disorganized after Thursday night’s 2-0 loss at Vancouver in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The team’s signature high-press was non-existent and the absence of Gonzalo Verón was notable in the second striker role. Instead Sacha Kljestan filled in but couldn’t generate the offensive punch needed in the position.

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Atlanta United

Atlanta would take the lead in the 25th minute when Yamil Asad was left unmarked at the near post. Aaron Long was caught ball-watching as Tyron Mears’ cross found Asad in front of Luis Robles.

The Red Bulls continued to look somewhat lost in the second half, unable to hold the high possession statistics of previous performances. Atlanta generated several more opportunities but couldn’t find the second goal. Instead, New York was able to equalize in the 77th minute as Daniel Royer headed home from Kljestan’s corner kick. Bradley Wright-Phillips would apparently slot away the game-winning goal just minutes later, but the it was ruled an own goal by Anton Walkes. The play came after a tight passing sequence between Mike Grella and Kemar Lawrence.

The win gives New York a strong start to the 2017 season. Next week the Red Bulls will host Tim Howard the Colorado Rapids in their home opener.

STARTING XI:

New York Red Bulls: Robles; Zizzo, Perrinelle, Long, Lawrence; Muyl (’54 Grella), Felipe, Davis, Royer; Wright-Phillips, Kljestan

Atlanta United: Kann; Mears, Parkhurst, Gonzalez Pirez, Garza; Carmona, Gressel; Villalba, Almiron, Asad; Martinez

GOALS:

’25 (ATL): Yamil Asad (1) assisted by Tyrone Mears (1)
’77 (RBNY): Daniel Royer (1) assisted by Sacha Kljestan (1)
’81 (RBNY): Anton Walkes (OG) Bradley Wright-Phillips (1) assisted by Kemar Lawrence (1)

DISCIPLINE:

’38 (RBNY): YELLOW CARD Sal Zizzo
’49 (ATL): YELLOW CARD Josef Martinez
’66 (RBNY): YELLOW CARD Damien Perrinelle
’88 (ATL): RED CARD Carlos Carmona