The New York Red Bulls knew they had to put on a better performance to respond from a 4-0 loss to Houston on Wednesday, and a late goal earned them a three-all draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that had a little bit of everything.
The match was leveled at two apiece in the 79th minutes, and more fireworks came inside second half stoppage time. Josef Martinez received a floating cross from Franco Escobar, and then headed it towards goal, beating Luis Robles.
It deflected under the crossbar and completely bounced over the goal line to give Atlanta United the lead in the first minute of second half stoppage time. Many thought the home team finally got their first regular season win over the Red Bulls.
But, not so fast, as Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls never stopped playing and continued to break the hearts of Atlanta United Supporters. In the third minute of second half stoppage time, Cristian Casseres Jr. whipped in a lovely ball from the near side.
The ball looked harmless enough, but the defense allowed it to come across into the middle of their area. BWP was able to take it one-time, and slotted it home to give the visitors a crucial road point.
“Because of how the game was, I was automatically thinking we need to get another goal,” Wright-Phillips said. “Because, it wasn’t, we didn’t deserve to lose. So, in my mind, I’m not sure what everyone else was thinking, I’m just thinking, ‘We need to get a goal, because we can’t go home like this.’”
But this all started with an opening goal by Atlanta in the 10th minute, as Justin Meram was able to cut inside Kyle Duncan after a nice ball from Pity Martinez during a counter attack. He slotted it past Luis Robles for the early lead.
But Daniel Royer, who has Atlanta’s number in eight matches, once again found a way to put the ball into the back of the net. As Alex Muyl stripped Julian Gressel, he crossed the ball toward Marc Rzatkowski, who slipped it to Royer.
Royer was able to fake out his defender and bent it inside the far post to level the score, earning his fourth goal in six regular season games. Royer is having plenty of success against this third-year club.
On the hour mark, Brian White continued his solid season of goal scoring, as he put himself in perfect position to get the lead. This time Royer sprung Muyl with a great ball that he crossed towards the back post, where White was able to smash it home.
But Josef Martinez, who was in the middle of everything, was able to convert from the penalty spot in the 79th minute to level the score. He was sandwiched between two Red Bull defenders, and Kyle Duncan grabbed Martinez by the arm, sending him to ground.
Still, at the end of the full 90 minutes plus five minutes of second half stoppage time, Atlanta United are still winless in the regular season against the New York Red Bulls. What’s worse is that United haven’t beaten the Red Bulls at home in the regular season as well.
“It’s a tie that we thought feels good in the end, but we thought we had the game and we had a grasp on it,” Chris Armas said. “We were the better team, we started the game the right way and we finished the game the right way.”
“We had to piece together a few different things and see who would start the game today. The two red cards we got in Houston didn’t help with the decision in some ways, but that’s what we had to do as coaches.”
This match had everything; a heated regular season contest with some hard play and even salty words going back and forth.
And do not forget the Red Bulls had big travel issues getting down to Atlanta due to the fact that the dangerous thunder and lightning storms prevented them from traveling down to Atlanta from Newark Airport.
They needed permission from MLS to fly down by charter, and this is a topic that will be heavily discussed in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the Players Association.