The Red Bulls look close to nabbing a victory, but Atlanta comes back and earns a draw to advance. After a tackle from Greg Garza, Julian Gressel gathered the ball, took a touch toward goal and fired a shot from 30 yards out which forced Robles into action again with a diving effort to his right. "For us, it's important not to cede control of the game to the Red Bulls, because that's when they'd be able to do the most damage". NY Red Bulls 1 Atlanta United 0.
The Red Bulls set the MLS regular-season record for points (71), two points ahead of Atlanta, and were trying to reach the championship match 10 years after losing to the Columbus Crew 3-1 in their lone MLS Cup appearance.
Yellow Card: NY Red Bulls - Parker 64. Both sides entered the half scoreless with Atlanta registering a first-half season-high 27 clearances. They will be facing an experienced opponent in Sporting Kansas City, and playing in an intimidating environment in Children's Mercy Park, but it's also a venue where visiting teams secured a win or score draw six times this year. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes then stalked more than halfway across the field to admonish his own club's fans. The Red Bulls had goals (correctly) called back in both legs on Video Review, so if they had counted, they'd have been enough to even the series and send the Supporters' Shield winners into the final on their away goal.
The New York Red Bulls have some significant work to do if they want to avoid yet another postseason disappointment. Nine players scored three or more goals; five players scored five or more. "We have to go there with the mentality that it's one game, like it is in the regular season, and we have to go there and try to get a win".
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"For us, we have to look at the game like it's 0-0, like we haven't won anything", Atlanta United coach Tata Martino told reporters this week. They can't be careless, but looking to grab the killer away goal early, and punish the Red Bulls if they are too eager, should be the approach.
The tiebreaker in MLS playoff games is away goals, and Sporting KC was unable to find the net in Portland despite a few good chances in the second half.
"That first game was physical", Besler said. Of course, it was Martinez who got the goal.
"When the game opens up that's where we have to take advantage of it", said Timbers defender Jorge Villafana, who could be one of Portland's key weapons in punishing Sporting KC for overzealousness. Tonight's going to be our night, " Robles said. So we were going to have to opt for a style of play that we had played during the season, which was the line of five, and it was the system that has given us the most security defensively.