Red Bulls Heading Home With Monumental Task Ahead

Red Bulls
Atlanta’s Hector Villalba shoots against Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. Photo: John David Mercer-USA Today Sports

If the task facing New York Red Bulls is not mission impossible, it’s close.

The 2018 Supporters’ Shield winners are heading home after falling to Atlanta United 3-0 Sunday in Leg 1 of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference Final. The match was played before 70,016 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The teams will be back in action on Thursday in Leg 2 at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. with coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes and New York Red Bulls Radio in English and Spanish on TuneIn.

New York needs to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard in Leg 2 while needing to score four goals to win. Three goals would force extra time. An Atlanta goal would further complicate matters for Red Bulls.

While the matchup of the league’s top two teams had mouths watering, the game itself was rather mundane during the first half hour.

Atlanta would break through in the 32nd minute. Defender Jeff Larentowicz would send a well-placed cross to Josef Martinez. The MLS MVP candidate would take a touch of his chest and left foot a shot past Luis Robles for a 1-0 lead.

In the 53rd minute, it appeared as if Bradley Wright-Philips tied the game. But following video review, referee Kevin Stott ruled that Alex Muyl was in an offside position in the line of sight of Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan and the goal was waved off.

The home side would extend its lead in the 71st minute on a Franco Escobar goal. Héctor Villalba would close out the scoring with a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

New York played the match without defender Kemar Lawrence. The defender missed the match after taking what the team termed “a knock” in training. Connor Lade started in place of Lawrence.