FT: New York City 2, Atlanta 2. What a game! It ends all square here in the ATL. The Five Stripes twice took the lead, only to see the Pigeons claw back the draw twice. New York City remains unbeaten, with five wins and two draws. But this draw might be the sweetest set of points earned yet; Atlanta was absolutely untouchable at home this season. And it means that New York City remain at the top of the league after playing twice in five days.
Alex Ring was the hero tonight with his strike in the 73rd minute. He’s had a habit of taking long distance shots, and it paid off tonight. His goal picked up the Pigeons at a moment when they were reeling, and gave them the impetus to earn the draw.
Next up for New York City: another road trip, this time to Portland, to take on the struggling Timbers.
92’: What a save by Johnson! Gressel gets on the end of a long pass and crosses the ball. It’s everything Johnson can do — flying, stretching! — to palm the ball away from an onrushing Josef Martinez, who’s lying on the ground.
88’: New York City are hanging on for dear life. They’ve come back twice from a goal down to salvage a draw. They attempt a counter, but it peters out after a heavy touch on the ball.
84’: Ronald Matarrita coming on for Jesus Medina. Matarrita was sparkling on Wednesday. He’ll provide a welcome defensive presence for New York City.
82’: It’s going to be a nervy last 10 minutes or so for the Pigeons, who are looking to remain unbeaten.
72’: GOOOOOALLLLL ALEX RING! WHAT A STRIKE!!! IT’S ALL SQUARE AT 2 APIECE!
It’s his first MLS goal! Villa dances and dances and dances with the ball, taking on at least three defenders, holding the ball the whole time. He then lays off the ball to Ring, who absolutely lasers a shot into the upper 90.
70’: New York City is absolutely nowhere here. They’ve had most of the possession here, but have done absolutely nothing with it.
61’: Rodney Wallace in for Jo Inge Berget. Berget’s put in a solid shift, but he’s clearly tiring. Wallace coming in means the team is going to be more direct.
56’: Goal, Atlanta, Chris McCann. There it is.
David Villa clears the incoming corner all the way up to near midfield, but it falls to an Atlanta player. The pass comes in to an onrushing, unmarked Almirón, who neatly, deftly chips in the ball for McCann to head home. That was some vintage bad defending by the Pigeons, and it cost them.
54’: So far, no adjustment’s been made. Almirón is still running rampant. Meanwhile, their pressure is keeping New York City from building up anything resembling an offense. A goal looks like it’s simply a matter of time for Atlanta.
46’: We’re off in the second half! Let’s see if Vieira’s made any defensive adjustments to counter Almirón.
HT: It’s been an intense 15-20 minutes to close out the half. Miguel Almirón has absolutely torched the Pigeons’ midfield and defense. They simply have no answer for him. His ability to pop up all over the field has disrupted the New York City defensive plan. New York City are lucky to be all-square at the half. Patrick Vieira needs to come up with a defensive adjustment for Almirón; it probably begins with man-marking him so he doesn’t have the run of the field.
40’: IT’S BEEN WAVED OFF! On review, you can clearly see Josef Martinez in an offside position interfering with Sean Johnson. That’s a no-no, and it results in the goal getting waved off by the VAR.
39’: Goal, Atlanta, Darlington Nagbe. This game’s gotten wild and woolly in a hurry. Nagbe finds himself with the ball at the top of the box, with time and space to take a shot. He doesn’t hesitate at all, and he’s put the Five Stripes ahead again.
37’: PENALTY NYC!!! What do you know? A dangerous counter by New York City leads to Berget getting absolutely scythed down in the box by Michael Parkhurst. Referee Allen Chapman wastes no time in giving the penalty.
Villa slots it home and the game is tied at one apiece.
35’: Tajouri-Shradi is coming off injured. David Villa is going to replace him, and the Pigeons could certainly use the jolt he’ll provide.
34’: This isn’t good. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s down injured. He’s going to try to continue, but keep an eye on this.
30’: Goal, Atlanta, Greg Garza. That’s a bad mistake by Sean Johnson. If you’re wondering why Johnson doesn’t get more respect, it’s because of his propensity for errors like that. Jesus Medina starts the chain by trying to take on four players by himself. Atlanta’s Parkhurst dispossesses him with ease, then finds all kind of open space to spray the ball into. Almirón ends up with the ball; he shoots, and while Johnson saves, he gives up a rebound that he really, really shouldn’t have.
25’: Oh, no, Yangel Herrera gives away a dangerous free kick at the top of the box. Herrera’s had the second-most fouls in the league since joining, and this is a bad one. Atlanta’s players gaggle up to decide who’ll take it. Jeff Larentowicz takes it, and while the deflection hits a New York City player in the arm, nothing comes of it.
20’: Another shot from distance by the Pigeons, and Guzan has to dive to the left to push the shot away. It results in New York City’s second corner of the game. Tajouri-Shradi lofts a majestic ball into the box, which Berget nods down.
Callens’ shot, though, is wide right, and the set pice comes to naught.
12’: This game is intense, but Atlanta’s been unable to impose their pressure on New York City. Meanwhile, while the Pigeons are building from the back and handling the Atlanta counters with aplomb, they’ve been unable to unlock the Atlanta backline. Their best chance thus far is a Berget shot from distance which Brad Guzan palmed over the crossbar.
1’: We’re off! This should prove a fascinating clash of tactics and strategy. After a crushing 4-0 loss to open the season, Atlanta have made themselves unbeatable at home. But New York City are arguably the best road team in the league. We’ll see what wins out, starting now.
For a second straight game, David Villa is on the bench. It makes one wonder how fit the talismanic striker is, especially playing on turf. That said: having someone like Villa available off the bench to change a game is a potent weapon for manager Patrick Villa.
New York City Starting XI (4-3-3, L-to-R): Johnson; Sweat, Callens, Chanot, Tinnerholm; Ring, Moralez, Herrera; Tajouri-Shradi, Berget, Medina
Bench: Stuver; Hountondji, Matarrita, McNamara, Ofori, Wallace, Villa
- Suspended: None
- Injury: OUT: Awuah (knee)
Atlanta United Starting XI (3-5-2, L-to-R): Guzan; McCann, Parkhurst (c), González Pirez; Garza, Kratz, Larentowicz, Nagbe, Gressel; Almirón, Martinez
Bench: Kahn, Barco, Robinson, Vazquez, Wheeler-Omiunu, Williams, Zizzo
- Suspended: None
- Injury: OUT: Franco Escobar (head injury), Jose Hernandez (quad strain), Mitch Hildebrandt (knee sprain)
Referees: Allen Chapman (referee); Jeremy Hanson, Cameron Blanchard (assistant referees); Sorin Stoica (4th official); Kevin Terry, Jr. (VAR)
How To Watch
Match date & time: April 15, 2018, 6:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Online streaming: FOX Sports Go
TV: FS1, TSN2 (in Canada)
Local radio: WNYE 91.5 FM — English (Crooks, Kolker, Masur, Lawrence); WADO 1280 AM — Spanish (Abramowitz, Judas).
All-time series: These two teams have set the pace for what expansion teams can do, particularly Atlanta. After a rough first season, New York City have made the playoffs the last two years, while the Five Stripes made the postseason in their first attempt.
They’ve met twice, and split the difference. New York City won the first meeting 3-1 in Yankee Stadium, while Atlanta won the return encounter by an identical score on May 28 of last year.
Both New York City and Atlanta have started the season on fire; Atlanta’s outscored opponents 12-1 at home. This is as titanic a matchup early in the season as you’ll get.
This post will update with highlights and information as we receive it.