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Red Bulls ready for restart against Atlanta

Looking ahead to tonight’s MLS is Back tournament opener

SOCCER: MAR 01 MLS - New York Red Bulls v FC Cincinnati Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tonight, for the first time in four months, the New York Red Bulls will play a game. Tonight’s MLS is Back Tournament itinerary features a tilt between Red Bulls and recent rivals Atlanta United at 8pm Eastern on Fox and TUDN.

The last time RBNY took on Atlanta United was at Mercedes Benz Stadium when Bradley Wright-Phillips converted a big game-tying goal inside second-half stoppage time to end that match in a thrilling three-goal draw.

But these two sides will be reacquainting in a neutral venue at the “bubble” of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World resort near Orlando, Florida.

For the Red Bulls, it looks like those who were starting the season with injuries will be ready to go as central defender Aaron Long and goalkeeper Ryan Meara have benefitted from the long break to get recover from injury for the restart of the season, while new signings such as Jason Pendant and Mandela Egbo have had time to settle in the squad.

You can’t say the same for Atlanta United, as their talisman striker Josef Martinez suffered a torn ACL on the road in the first match of Nashville SC’s MLS campaign. However this team still has Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martinez, and many others that are dangerous as well.

From what I saw in the first two RBNY matches of the season was fantastic play from Florian Valot, who returned after almost two years of knee troubles. The way he moved the ball and found both Kyle Duncan and Kaku against FC Cincinnati was brilliant and was also supporting Cristian Casserers Jr. in their road draw at Real Salt Lake.

For the Red Bulls to continue their dominance over Atlanta United, they need to be strong in the midfield once again to dictate the play. There is no need for concern with the center backs, yet the hope is that either Brian White, Tom Barlow, or even Mathias Jørgensen can start to get going soon.

Time to buckle up for the ride once again, as the Red Bulls restart their 2020 campaign.