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Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs Atlanta United

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The Supporters’ Shield is on the line...for real.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy -USA TODAY Sports

It’s the biggest game of the regular season for Atlanta United as they take on the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. The two sides are currently in 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Supporters’ Shield race, making Sunday’s meeting all the more enticing with just four games remaining.

Red Bulls lack their wings

The New York Red Bulls have enjoyed a stellar season, setting themselves up for what is likely to be the second seed in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. Still firmly in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, the Red Bulls sit four points behind Sunday’s opponent but will be without their star striker against Atlanta.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 19 times this season, second only to Josef Martinez, but will be suspended for Sunday’s game due to yellow card accumulation. The loss of Wright-Phillips hurts the Red Bulls’ undoubtedly and they’ll need to be at their best to close the gap between themselves and Atlanta.

A loss on Sunday would see Atlanta’s lead stretch to seven points and all but confirm the Supporters’ Shield’s next destination.

A chance to move closer to silverware

Atlanta’s back to back wins last week helped them stretch their lead in the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield race to four points. With help from results elsewhere, Atlanta are closing in on the club’s first piece of silverware and Sunday’s game gives them the opportunity to inch even closer.

With just one loss in their last ten games, Atlanta have been in red-hot form and continue their obliteration of the Eastern Conference. Despite the run of form and the Red Bulls missing their best player on Sunday, the Five Stripes will still have their hands full with a team that has been on their tail all season.

Josef Martinez has uncharacteristically found the back of the net just once in his last four games and if Atlanta fans know anything, it’s that Martinez will just about anything to score. With plenty of records beaten already this season, Martinez will have his eye on helping Atlanta closer to their first piece of silverware.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Major League Soccer’s best goal-scorers battle it out, but the midfield battle could be the one that decides Sunday’s game. Darlington Nagbe vs Tyler Adams has the potential to be one of the most intriguing individual battles of the season, and we can’t wait.