After ending the Red Bulls’ party with a resounding 3-0 at the Benz, Atlanta United look to seal it with a kiss at Red Bulls Arena.
This Thursday, the 5 Stripes head into New York with everything but a ticket to the MLS Cup Finals. Atlanta proved this past Sunday that they can not only hang with the Supporters’ Shield winners, but beat them to the ground in a homestand.
However, this isn’t the first time that the Red Bulls find themselves down after Leg 1 of the Conference Finals. Just last years, they were down to the Columbus Crew after the first leg, not by a ridiculous 3-0 margin, but they were still down. The New York squad was able to overcome that blip and turn their luck around last year, but Atlanta will be doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen.
On the other hand, The Red Bulls haven’t lost in their last 6 home games, which makes for an intimidating statistic.
While Atlanta United is coming in hot as visitors, the Red Bulls have more than shown their technique and class throughout the season. As it comes with experience, seeing that the Bulls aren’t brand new to this, I expect the New York side to be more than capable of anything, especially in their home field.
The Atlanta Defense
While a 0-0 scoreline would be enough to send Atlanta on to the finals, the New York Red Bulls are fully aware that this is their last chance at making the cut so they’ll be the usual, top heavy, playing-in-the-top-third-of-the-opponents-side-of-the-field team that we have all come to find and love. So it’ll come down to the communication of the Atlanta back line and the solidity of the players as a team to make sure no ball looks exceedingly dangerous.
The Atlanta Attack
Even though a scoreless match would be the safest bet for Atlanta United, we should all know, and expect by now, that this is more than likely not going to happen. With the most explosive and attack-minded teams in the MLS battling for a spot to win it all going against each other for the last time this year, goals are bound to happen.
The best thing for ATL UTD to do is to start the match defensively-strong while working their way up the middle of the pitch, like they were able to do last Sunday. Granted that was due to the Red Bulls’ lack of attacking presence but pulling it off would guarantee them a spot in the MLS Finals.
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1