Despite early goal, Atlanta United fall to Red Bulls in Opener

| March 6, 2017

ATLANTA —Atlanta United fell in its inaugural match 2-1 to New York Red Bulls in front of a sold-out crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Yamil Asad scored the first goal in club history in the 25th minute to give Atlanta a one-goal lead.

After Atlanta carried a 1-0 advantage into the half, the Red Bulls rallied in the final 45 minutes with goals from Daniel Royer and an own goal from Anton Walkes to capture a hard-fought road victory to open the season.

“The question could be what happened in the last 15 minutes,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “We were much closer to converting a second goal. And in a series of errors that we made, they turned the score around, but I think we had started to control the game again up until they scored the equalizer.”

Mears assisted Atlanta’s historical goal when he sent in a cross to the back post where an unmarked Asad slide into the path of the ball which deflected off Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and into the back of the net.

Royer equalized in the 76th minute with a header off a corner kick from captain Sacha Kljestan. Six minutes later, New York took the lead when fullback Kemar Lawrence crossed in a ball from the left side of Atlanta’s penalty area that found the leg of Walkes who was jostling for position with a threatening Bradley Wright-Phillips and rolled into goal.

Atlanta created several chances despite netting the lone goal as they out-shot their opponent 14-9 and forced Robles to come up with three saves.

“It was awesome to play in front of [the crowd],” defender Michael Parkhurst said. “It was awesome to see. They tried to give us a lift there in the second half and we appreciated that but it wasn’t meant to be. If we have an atmosphere like that every game, it’s going to be an awesome place to play.”

Atlanta’s first lineup featured a 4-2-3-1 formation which included Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza, Tyrone Mears and Michael Parkhurst in defense, Julian Gressel and Carlos Carmona in the midfield, Hector Villalba, Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez on the attack and Alec Kann in net.

Jeff Larentowicz and Walkes entered as substitutes in the 81st minute for Pirez and Gressel and Kenwyne Jones came on for Villalba in the 84th. In all, 14 Atlanta United players made their club debut.

Two Red Bulls were cautioned, Sal Zizzo in the 38th minute and Damien Perrinelle in the 66th minute. For Atlanta, Martinez was issued a yellow in the 48th minute while Carmona picked up a red card in the 88th minute.

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