Both started out strong in their opening rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League, until they reached the Quarterfinals and faced their Liga MX sides. While Atlanta United got thrashed by Monterrey, the Red Bulls made it a series against Santos Laguna until the final 15 minutes.
So far the Red Bulls have won in three of their last four, while Atlanta United have won 6 out of their last seven. Five straight clean sheets in these last five games, have given the peach state club a position above the playoff line.
But both sides have rounded into form, and are looking like their usual selves after their slow start that put themselves into a hole to start the season.
“Every time there is a new season, it’s a new year and new challenges.” said Brian White “Obviously we didn’t get off to a great start, but we are trying to build off the couple of wins we are getting now.
“We aren’t really paying attention to what they are doing from within their season, but we are preparing for them to the best that we can, because they are a good team, and their players are very good right now.”
You can see the changes by both head coaches in Chris Armas and Frank de Boer had to take a little longer, before righting their respective ships, and now they’re getting ready for battle this coming Sunday evening
In six games (four regualr season and two playoffs) the Red Bulls have only lost once, which was the first leg of the Eastern Finals as Atlanta United blew them out of the water, three goals to nil.
But Atlanta at Red Bull Arena in three matches have only drawn once, is Red Bull Arena going to continue to be, the best home field advantage when these two sides face each other on Sunday night?
“No it’s not actually, that’s the past. The past doesn’t matter, because it’s about this game.” said Sean Davis “The past doesn’t matter and it’s all about this game, and we know that it will mke them hungrier when they are coming to play us.
“We have to be ready for them to step onthe field and attack the game, and be ready and up for the challenge, as they are on a roll and they don’t want their momentum to stop at all.”
Now that Miguel Almiron is at Newcastle United in the English Premier League ,and no longer with Atlanta United, there are new additions that are trying to perform at that same high level with Josef Martinez.
That means Ezequiel Barco is finally getting a chance to play, and Pity Martinez is having a slow start. This also means that Kaku knows what these player can do and how he will try to help his side to stop them.
“Obviously losing some like that (Almiron) he’s always made the games special playing against him, but they also have a good player in Pity Martinez who is a fantastic as well” said Kaku “When Barco came over he was struggling.
“But now that he is getting more comfortable, he’s playing better and we are going to try and stop him from being successful against us this match.”
So far on the injury front Bradley Wright-Phillips is still day to day with his groin issue. Sadly this is the type of injury that you can’t predict how short or long he will be out, as this is a see how you feel injury.
But while it’s frustrating, it sounds like he’s in good spirits, and he’s showing positive signs that he cheers on the boys while he’s missing in action for the time being.
“He doesn’t show too much frustration out there, we know he wants to be out there. Big games lately, he’s only known a career to be fit for every match.” said Chris Armas “ So he hasn’t shown frustration, but he’s at his best when he’s playing and training.
“In that area where the groin is, including the pelvic area, it’s a little bit tricky. So we got the proper imaging and test, so there’s no concern for that, so it’s all about how the player feels and we take all the information. We also need to know how the player feels. Also consulting with the doctors, that we feel that it’s close for him to come back.”
Luis Robles is also a possibility for Sunday, but Aaron Long might be a wait and see, but so far all reports are saying he is heeling quickly, but they are still being cautious with these types of injuries.
But the Red Bulls are getting ready for their matchup against Atlanta United and they will try to add on to their current streak winning three of the last four. It will be a fun early evening at Red Bull Arena.