Atlanta United left the Red Bull Arena with one point after a hard fought and desperate 0-0 result against the New York Red Bulls. The Five Stripes have still scored a single goal for the regular season at the Red Bull Arena, while their only win over the New Jersey team remains in the 2018 playoffs.
Despite the overwhelming result, a victory over FC Cincinnati over the weekend will secure a play-off for Atlanta United.
Still, Wednesday night was an incredibly tough time for Atlanta United supporters. Their team did not succeed with a single shot during the first half and barely managed the Red Bulls pressure.
“Apart from the breakout early in the second half for them, they did not have lots of clear chances. Again, we bowed but never broke,” goalkeeper and team captain Brad Guzan said after the game.
“This match will always be ugly. So no, I’m not worried about the chances being created today. Because the game required a different element and we rolled up our sleeves and fought like crazy.”
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If anything, Wednesday was an important lesson for Atlanta United. Too many times this season, the Five Stripes have played dazzling football or been the ones who have pushed the opposition, only to be knocked out in the last moments due to lack of concentration or individual mistakes. Unlike the basic season, you can not get away with it on the way to the MLS Cup.
“I feel that the mentality, the toughness, the winning duels, absorbing a lot of pressure and not letting in a goal is a big positive for the team mentality,” Gonzalo Pineda answered when asked if the performance against the Red Bulls was playable.
“That’s how you have to fight to get results at the end of the day. Of course, football has to improve. But I liked the mentality tonight.”
The Red Bulls attempted 15 shots at night, while delivering a giant 36 crosses in the box. But only five of them connected (14%), with Atlanta’s defense putting everything at stake. Their three midfielders – Miles Robinson, Alan Franco and Anton Walkes – combined alone to make 26 clearances while making a total of 15 successful air duels between them.
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“They got a lot of pressure, especially inside the box during the opening minutes of the match,” said Pineda.
“We conceded many crosses, set goals and the players did well. They were up to the level and matched the opponent’s intensity.”
Again, the Five Stripes just need to avoid a complete and total disaster against Cincinnati to book their place in the playoffs. More importantly, Pineda finally saw a side to his team that had not been there before. Hard lessons in discipline, determination and togetherness were taught at Red Bull Arena. Lessons that can make Atlanta United a threat after the season.
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