Coming off the back of their worst defeat this season and with two vital players suspended due to events from the previous match, the New York Red Bulls were in Atlanta Sunday afternoon and desperate to avoid a second straight loss. In what concluded to be a thrilling 3-3 draw, the Red Bulls head back to Harrison, NJ with 1 hard fought point as they prepare for the upcoming New York Derby next weekend.
In the 10th minute, Atlanta’s #10 Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez started the goalfest with a perfectly struck ball in the path of a striding Justin Meram. Brilliantly caressing Martínez’s pass with the outside of his right boot across the path of defender Kyle Duncan, Meram freed up the space he needed to slide the ball past goalkeeper Luis Robles for an early 1-0 lead. This was the nightmare start that Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas was hoping to avoid as the 68,000+ in Mercedes-Benz Stadium were ecstatic and in full voice.
However, New York would strike back. Daniel Royer’s goal scoring form remains intact as he leveled the match in the 37th off an Atlanta turnover in their own half. Brian White then added his name to the scoresheet in the 60th after Alex Muyl curled a low sweeper across the face of goal which found the extremely gracious boot of the Red Bulls’ forward.
Up to this point, Atlanta United star Josef Martínez was held relatively quiet. Having just come back from international duty after his Venezuelan team was eliminated by Argentina in the Copa América quarterfinals, Martínez was determined to make his return felt. In the 78th minute, the Atlanta forward was brought down inside the box by New York’s Kyle Duncan and left the referee with no choice but to issue a yellow card and award Atlanta the penalty kick. There was no question that Martínez would be the one to take it and he buried the ball in the bottom left corner to bring the two teams level on terms.
Not satisfied with one goal on the day, Martínez’s perfectly connected header in stoppage time gave Atlanta United the 3-2 advantage with only a few minutes left to play. All looked to be lost for New York until the 93rd minute when Cristian Casseres Jr. caught United’s defense sleeping with a masterfully weighted pass towards goal. Super-sub Bradley Wright-Phillips, who’s playing time this season has been limited due to injury, found himself on the receiving end of Casseres Jr.’s pass and fired it behind a stunned Brad Guzan.
The result means that the Red Bulls are still United’s kryptonite. Atlanta remains without a win in six straight against the New York side. The previous match this season ended in a 1-0 home victory for NYRB.
By Nick Sbordone