The whole day through
Why ‘accidental rivals,’ you may ask? I guess it’s because you never forget your first… Atlanta debuted in MLS by hosting the Red Bulls in 2017. New York served up a rare come-from-behind win to put a damper on the newcomers’ entrance. They’ve been a fly in Atlanta United’s BBQ Brisket ever since. With the glaring exception of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals, United has had little luck over the Red Bulls.
Other arms reach out to me
Of the two goalkeepers, Atlanta’s Rocco Rios Novo was much busier at the start of the match. United sat back, passing among Rios Novo and the defenders, looking for a way through. Carlos Coronel had to make his way nearly to midfield at one point to get a touch on the ball.
No peace I find
While the hour mark came and went without a goal for either side, as is often the case the scoreline didn’t tell the whole story. Both teams were looking to wear each other out physically and mentally. The heat of the day had worn off, and no hydration break was deemed necessary. Fresh legs, in the form of Tom Barlow and Luquinhas Linhares, brought some life later in the match. But it was Atlanta’s initial substitute, Josef Martinez, who opened the scoring in the 76th minute. He collected a ball following a scramble in the box for a tap-in.
The road leads back to you
Less than ten minutes later, Luquinhas’ persistence paid off. His race to the endline cut off a little too emphatically, the tackle earned a penalty shot, converted by Lewis Morgan. Red Bull Arena came alive. Not content to remain level, RBNY surged on — pun absolutely intended. Newcomer Serge Ngoma made a break for it, chipping the ball just over Rios Novo’s extended leg to take the lead in the 89th minute. His first MLS goal, the sixteen-year-old brought the crowd to their feet. With a 2-1 win, it was all a little bit of history repeating.
The New York Red Bulls head to Kansas City in just a few days. But for now, I’ll enjoy this win, as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.