A quick series of errors turned the game sour just minutes from the final whistle.
Going into the match, very few would have expected Atlanta United to walk away with points from this trip to New York. The match was not a particularly fun one to watch, but it saw the Five Stripes come out dominant over the Red Bulls for a majority of the game. Gonzalo Pineda rolled out a different formation that featured rotation of some of the main players in the attack including Josef Martínez and Marcelino Moreno.
Even without those big names on the field, Atlanta actually looked better than Red Bulls up until about 10 minutes before the end.
So let's look at what happened in the game.
The game was mostly a back-and-forth affair in the midfield with neither team truly being able to get the edge over the other. Towards the end of the first half, Atlanta started to put the pieces of the attack together with a couple of shots from Luiz Araújo and Ronaldo Cisneros.
The second half started much like the first until Araújo saw Caleb Wiley running into space and passed him the ball so he could lob it into the box and - after a brief scramble - see Josef Martínez put it into the back of the net. The first goal at Red Bull Arena in Atlanta United history.
With that opener, Atlanta was 15 minutes away from securing an unexpected but absolutely crucial three points. Key word: was.
Atlanta then sat back as the Red Bulls tried to find an equalizer. They would find one when midfielder Luquinhas managed to win a penalty off of a foolish Caleb Wiley challenge. Lewis Morgan puts it away from the spot and the game was level again. They'd lose their one remaining point in the game after defender Alex De John slept on a pass in front of goal and had the ball stolen from him by a Red Bulls homegrown who slots it past Rocco Ríos Novo to make the game 2-1.
There were definitely some positives despite the disappointing result. the Five Stripes may have found a formation that they can play well in. The 5-3-2 they played held very solid, saw an overall defensive improvement, and showed much promise in the attack as well. Wiley and McFadden looked really good covering defensively as well as coming forward in the attack (both were involved in Atlanta's goal).
Unfortunately though, it's points that count in MLS and Atlanta is not getting them. If Atlanta can't figure out how to fix these mistakes in the back that are costing them points over and over again, they may not make it past decision day this season.
Atlanta's next game is Sunday against reigning MLS Cup Champs New York City FC at Yankee Stadium with kickoff at 5:00 PM.