A night that was meant for celebration in Atlanta quickly turned sour, as the New York Red Bulls turned a second half deficit into a 2-1 victory to claim all three points to start the new season against Atlanta United.
Atlanta's night started brightly when Yamil Asad opened the scoring in the first half. But Daniel Royer and an own goal gave the visiting side the win by the time the final whistle blew.
The first half-chance of the night came in the 11th minute when Sal Zizzo cut out a poor distribution throw from Atlanta’s goalkeeper, Alec Kann, and drove towards the byline. Zizzo then played a pass back through the middle of the area where young center back, Aaron Long, hit a weak shot wide of the near post.
Asad into Atlanta's history books
After all that pressure the Red Bulls were piling up in the early goings, it was Atlanta who scored their first ever goal in MLS play in the 28th minute. Tyrone Mears, who is coming off an MLS Cup victory with the Seattle Sounders, played a sublime cross to the far post that evaded everyone near the six yard box. Asad was left in acres of space to hit the delivery first-time into the bottom left hand corner for the historic goal.
Two minutes before the halftime interval, Atlanta came close to doubling their advantage. Greg Garza threaded the Red Bulls’ defense with an excellent pass to Josef Martinez. The 23-year-old striker managed to get on the end of the cross, but Luis Robles made a great reaction save to keep the deficit to just one goal.
In the 67th minute, Miguel Almiron found room in behind the New York backline after a couple of the defenders fell asleep for a split second. The talented Argentine tried to chip Robles, but the goalkeeper made a fantastic leaping effort to keep the ball from going behind him.
Five minutes later, Martinez nearly found Atlanta’s second of the match. Martinez took one extra touch before letting his shot go inside the box. But a Red Bulls’ defender got in the way to prevent it from finding the back of the net.
Red Bulls spoil the party
There was another goal in this match, but it was the visiting side who scored it to level things at one with 14 minutes remaining. Alec Kann came up with a fantastic double save from close range to initially preserve Atlanta’s lead. However, off of a corner kick, Daniel Royer rose above the United defender to head a powerful defender past Kann.
Minutes later, in the 82nd, a costly own goal by Anton Walkes, who came on as a second half substitute, gave NYRB a late advantage. It looked like Bradley-Wright Phillips was in an offside position when the ball was played, but because it was Walkes who touched the ball, the offside rule is negated.
Atlanta United went down to 10 men in the 88th minute when Carlos Carmona received his marching orders with a straight red card. New York’s Felipe was being stretched out for cramps when Carmona came over and stepped on his side. The referee spotted this and instantly issued a red for violent conduct.
The hosts will hope for better fortunes next week when they welcome in fellow expansion side Minnesota United. New York Red Bulls, meanwhile, play hosts to the Colorado Rapids.