Thu, 13 Aug 2020

Atlanta United set for showdown with Red Bulls

Field Level Media
11 Jul 2020, 10:40 GMT+10

Atlanta United FC might be undefeated thus far in 2020, but they've yet to beat the New York Red Bulls during regular-season play in six all-time matchups.

The Five Stripes get another chance on Saturday night, when they face the Red Bulls during Group E play of the "MLS is Back Tournament" near Orlando.

Despite losing star Josef Martinez to an opening-day knee injury, Atlanta (2-0-0, six points) embarks on this World Cup-style tournament in the "bubble" of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex looking to remain unbeaten. However, due to the long layoff from the coronavirus pandemic interruption, coach Frank de Boer does not expect things to be easy right out of the gate.

"We are physically not 100 percent, but what I see from training the last couple of days, also the last couple of weeks, players are excited to start, and the quality is there," de Boer told the official MLS website. "Hopefully we can deliver a good game against Red Bulls."

The Five Stripes earned a victory and ultimately won the two-leg 2018 Eastern Conference Championship against the Red Bulls (1-0-1, four points), but they have been outscored 11-5 while going 0-4-2 against them in the regular season.

The good news for Atlanta, perhaps, is that key performers Ezequiel Barco (two league goals) and Pity Martinez (two assists) played well enough early on to possibly change the club's fortunes in this series.

New York, which beat FC Cincinnati 3-2 to open the season and played Real Salt Lake to a 1-1 road draw, seems eager not only to get back to action, but also take on Atlanta.

"We have a lot of respect for (Atlanta United), and that's noteworthy," New York coach Chris Armas told the official MLS website. "We'll go after them. We love the matchup because it's Atlanta. They're a team that has set the bar high."

Four different Red Bulls have scored goals this season. They are led by midfielder Daniel Royer, who has four goals and three assists in eight overall matches versus Atlanta.

--Field Level Media

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