Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls played to a scoreless draw tonight at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, but while both teams failed to find the back of the net, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
Both teams will rue some missed chances that could have changed the face of this match. In the first half, Julian Gressel caught Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles well off his line, but the rookie’s blast from distance missed the net in what would have been a costly mistake by New York. Late in the first in stoppage time, Sacha Kljestan beat Brad Guzan but clanged one off the post as the Red Bulls came inches from making it a 1-0 affair. Seconds later, Tito Villalba found himself one on one with Robles, but the resulting shot harmlessly rolled out to the left of goal as the Argentinian saw an opportunity to put his team up wasted.
Atlanta again almost made it 1-0 if not for a great save by Robles on Villalba, whose right-footed attempt was swatted down. But the chance of the night was probably in the 65th minute. On a quick restart, Kljestan slid a ball from the left of the box to Bradley Wright-Phillips, but Guzan showed phenomenal reflexes to deflect it over the top of the net and over to keep it scoreless. Gonzalo Veron was also stopped by Guzan in the 74th minute as the U.S. national ended up facing three shots on target to prove himself Atlanta’s man of the match.
Meanwhile, Atlanta got the result it was looking for from an outside team in the form of a 2-1 victory for the New England Revolution over New York City FC. Unfortunately, the draw not only puts Atlanta in fourth after the Chicago Fire’s 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union, but they no longer control their destiny when it comes to clinching second. They must win against Toronto FC on Sunday and hope for both a New York City draw or loss and a Chicago draw or loss to take the second slot in the East and avoid the first-round knockout match. Atlanta would be level in points and wins with those two teams but would leapfrog to second by virtue of a massive goal differential.