Atlanta United is headed to MLS Cup after beating Red Bulls at their own game

The wait will have to continue for the New York Red Bulls.

They have yet to win MLS Cup in 23 years and have made it to the final only once -- in 2008.

On Thursday night, they had to watch at home as Atlanta United celebrated clinching a berth in the championship game -- in only its second season.

The Red Bulls entered the playoffs with the best defense in MLS -- 33 goals allowed in 34 games -- but they lost in Eastern Conference final series to a team about which the big question mark was its defensive focus.

The Red Bulls dug a deep hole for themselves in the first leg -- 3-0 loss in Atlanta -- and never looked like getting out of it at home. By the time Tim Parker scored in stoppage time to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 win in the second leg, the suspense was long gone.

Atlanta wins with line of five. Atlanta United lost both games to the Red Bulls during the regular season -- 3-1 at home and 2-0 on the road -- but it's been a different team in the playoffs, giving opponents few opportunities. Until Parker's goal, the only goal Atlanta had allowed in the playoffs was on a free kick that deflected off an Atlanta player in the wall and went right to NYCFC defender Maxime Chanot to put away.

"In the final matches of the regular season," Atlanta United coach Tata Martino said, "the team labored and gave up too many goals, and it wasn't the way we were going to have success in the playoffs. 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. This has helped us be solid defensively on the road and dominant at home."

Red Bulls lose on preventable goals. 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.

But Coach Chris Armas was more interested in what might have been if his players had done a better job on the three goals Atlanta United scored at home in the first leg.

“Pressing, not pressing, we have to maintain our aggressiveness no matter where we are on the field, and you have to make plays,” Armas said. “Because if we just look at the individual plays of the goals, the three really good finishes — but we could have prevented all three of those. Things are tight in the playoffs, and it's about making plays, and we give them credit because they did, and we had to make a few more of those on each end of the field.”

Nov. 29 in Harrison, N.J.
NY Red Bulls 1 Atlanta United 0. Goal: Parker 90+4 (Royer) 90+4.
NY Red Bulls -- Robles; Murillo (Ivan 73), Parker, Long, Lade (Etienne 54); Davis (Rzatkowski 55), Adams; Royer,Kaku, Muyl; Wright-Phillips.
Atlanta United -- Guzan; Gonzalez Pirez, Parkhurst (Robinson 90+4), Larentowicz; Garza, Remedi, Nagbe, Escobar; Martinez (Villalba 70), Almiron (Barco 90), Gressel.
Yellow Card: NY Red Bulls -- Parker 64.
Referee: Jair Marrufo. Assistants: Frank Anderson, Brian Poeschel. Fourth Official: Ismail Elfath. VAR: Christopher Penso.
Att.: 22,137.
(Atlanta United wins 3-1 on aggregate)

6 comments about "Atlanta United is headed to MLS Cup after beating Red Bulls at their own game".
  1. frank schoon, November 30, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.

    I hope Atlanta wins it all, for they deserve it not only on merit, but also on style and entertainment. It would be great for socccer ,for Atlanta, for the MLS and I hope there is a way to keep TATA involved in the American game. 
    Tata is the first coach who makes his team play a NON-MLS type or style of game. His knowledge , exprerience, backround, and know- how in finding good, young players without going to major, major stars from abroad.
    Maybe Ric Fonseca can interview Tata, for SA....

  2. beautiful game, November 30, 2018 at 9:32 a.m.

    Here, here F.S.; Atlanta plays with purpose. Armas, ..."could have, should have, would have"...are lame excuses. 

  3. frank schoon replied, November 30, 2018 at 10:34 a.m.

    BG, THe way NY Red Bulls play is an embarrasment for soccer, although , i do like to have a team like that  in the league to give other teams a hard time of it. It is like Liverpool for me, unwatchable,the way they play but it is good to have a team like that to give other teams a tough of it. Can you imagine if Red Bulls lucked out and won the MLS cup, how many idiot coaches would  try to copy the Red  Bulls style of would definitely set back soccer in the US for another decade

  4. R2 Dad, November 30, 2018 at 11:01 a.m.

    Watched first half, crap officiating, turned it off.

  5. humble 1, November 30, 2018 at 3:44 p.m.

    Did anyone notice that both Portland and Atlanta have head coaches from South America and nearly all Atlanta goals are scored by South Americans and same for Portland?  Meanwhile back on the ranch, USA Mens Soccer has a Dutch-American heading up head coach hunt who insists to have a coach that speaks 'english'.  Furthermore, the leading scorer of Atlanta and head coach of Portland are from Venezuela, where the number one sport is - baseball!  Hello Jose Altuve!

  6. frank schoon replied, November 30, 2018 at 5:12 p.m.

    Humble, I don't think baseball is the #1 support any longer in Venezuela....they've eaten all the baseballs. 

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