A return to Fifth Third Bank Stadium after over a month away did not go according to plan for ATL UTD 2, as second-place New York Red Bulls II came away with a 3-1 win on Friday night in Kennesaw.
“We made poor decisions when to go forward, when to play out. That cost us tonight,” said ATL UTD 2 coach Stephen Glass. “Overall, we got what we deserved tonight. I don’t think we deserved to come out of tonight’s game with a point. We showed a little bit of fight towards the end, but that was too little too late.”
The match was scoreless until the latter portion of the first half when poor passing came back to haunt Atlanta. The ball made its way to Edgardo Rito, who ended a nice run along the right flank by beating Dylan Castanheira far-post to put NYRB II up 1-0. Andrew Carleton nearly pulled his side level just minutes later, but a good strike from just outside the box missed the net by just inches.
NYRB II doubled its margin early in the second half as a result of more poor possession by ATL UTD 2. Sebastian Elney received a ball from midfield, outran his defenders and lasered a shot past Castanheira to make it 2-0 in the 47th minute.
Shortly after the 60-minute mark, Glass decided to clear the deck and use all three of his substitutions, bringing in Jackson Conway, Patrick Okonkwo and Brandon Vazquez in an attempt to shake things up offensively. It appeared to work as Atlanta pulled one back through Vazquez in the 66th off a well-time pass from Okonkwo, but a Christopher Lema corner in the 76th was touched home beautifully by Kyle Zajec to provide what proved to be the match’s final goal.
The loss overshadowed a brilliant performance in net by Castanheira. Despite the 3-1 scoreline, the first-year signee from Columbia University made several beautiful diving stops and finished with 9 saves altogether, a franchise record. All told, NYRB II outshot Atlanta 25-11, with a 12-5 advantage in shots on goal.
ATL UTD 2 finish up a 2-match homestand against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds next Saturday. Kickoff at Fifth Third Bank Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.