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Recap: Atlanta United 3-3 Red Bulls

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If you say Brian White into a mirror three times in a dark room, a copy of The Fountainhead magically appears in your backpack.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta, Ga. - Despite a late comeback from Josef Martinez and Atlanta United, New York Red Bulls came away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a point thanks to a stoppage time goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The things that happened in the game that was played

ATLANTA’S OWN JUSTIN MERAM!!!!!

After the 10th minute goal, Atlanta struggled to create chances. With Atlanta pinned back, Red Bulls finally found their chance to equalize, and capitalized. Ruthlessly.

Things we chippy until the halftime whistle. Multiple cards were given and there probably could have been more. Both teams headed to their corners with the game tied at 1-1.

Red Bulls were the only team that came out throwing punches in the second half.

After a handful of shots just missed out on finding the back of the net....well.......look I don’t know how to tell you this but “Brian White” scored. I want to die.

It seemed entirely dire. “Brian White” had scored, surely signaling the end times. But yet...in the distance...hope. In the distance: Josef Martinez (and a sketchy at best referee making calls, but mostly Josef ).

A 79th minute penalty call leveled the score.

Josef then decided that draws are for SCAD students.

Practically in the middle of the celebrations, Bradley Wright-Phillips decided that joke sucked and then everything was bad, just real bad, and yikes y’all this one hurt. Should have been three.

Y’all think I’m joking about this FdB curse. I thought I was too. But man....I don’t know anymore. I don’t know.

A Recap Thought: Whatever the opposite of Mentality Giants is.

The last four ATLUTD games:

Pity missed penalty against Toronto in the 90-something minute after conceding a 90-something minute winner.

A win against Montreal, good job.

An absolute drubbing against freaking Chicago, grape job.

Blow a 90-something minute lead to your biggest rival after going ahead in the 90-somethingeth minute.

There have been moments throughout the season where this team has conceded late or extremely early. The Five Stripes have routinely let teams back into games or allowed opponents to finish them off entirely. Three of the last four games have been great examples of that. The losses (and draws that feel like losses) feel more like hari-kari than bad luck. Dumb mistakes or missed opportunities have plagued the team. Feels bad man.

This week’s pain came from a defensive mistake in the final 30 seconds of the match, although Frank de Boer did concede that there may have been some larger forces at play.

“It was a good pass, but also I think there was a little bit of luck involved,” he said. “But we weren’t tight enough at that moment. We have to understand that with 30 seconds to go, we have to try and get everything. It wasn’t enough. You try to come back but you leave with a very bad taste in your mouth.”

It’s a strange thing that seems to be happening over and over. Leaving crucial games with a bad taste. There seems to be a disconnect for the 2019 edition of this team. It feels...young somehow? Inexperienced? It shouldn’t. But the team is making mistakes like it is. It’s gotten to the point where post-match talks have boiled down to simply wanting to win enough that you don’t give away cheap goals.

“I said in the dressing room, ‘We have to understand that how you avoid it doesn’t matter. That you have to avoid giving them a chance. But you have to go through the pain,’ de Boer said. “It’s hard but we have to improve everything and make this mentality to really understand what does it mean to get those points.”

It doesn’t help that the player brought in on a record breaking transfer fee is being subbed off for an out of position 20-year-old that simply seems like he wants it more.

“We have to win duels. In my point of view we didn’t do avoid enough preventing an easy long ball. Brandon came in and it was a different story,” de Boer said of subbing Brandon Vazquez on for Pity.

“I don’t want ten or nine or eight men who work very hard, I want 11 men. Everybody has to work in this kind of game. So I had the feeling that we have to win those duels. I had the feeling that we have to win those duels. It’s why I put Jeff Larentowicz in. After we put Jeff in we get chance after chance.”

It seems like a recurring theme in games against Red Bulls is mentality. Red Bulls seemingly win every 50/50 ball time and time again. It has been that way since the first game in team history. The only time it didn’t happen is when Chris Armas decided in the biggest game of his life that pressing wasn’t fun anymore and Chris Armas blew it. But it doesn’t feel like a single game blip on the radar in 2019. It’s not just Red Bulls finding chances from missteps and horrific turnovers, especially those at key moments.

It may all be a fluke. Random things happen. But it is still a theme. Until Atlanta works out a way to keep itself from being in positions where fluky, random things can happen, then we’ll continue to see that theme loom larger and larger over this edition of the team. It’s the kind of thing that can be hard to overcome over the course of a season.

For de Boer, that improvement doesn’t start by simply fixing what’s been a rotating cast on the back line.

“Defending starts up front guys. You cannot blame the defense. It’s the whole team. It’s all a team effort and I think we have to understand that. You know you always want to play with the same backline because it makes chemistry better but I think we have the quality enough to where we should not be conceding goals,” he said.

Atlanta’s defense, lauded early in the year, has now surrendered 12 goals over the last four matches. If it is in fact the whole team struggling, something needs to be fixed and fast before Atlanta begins a downward spiral into one of the toughest stretches of the season.

Or. And stay with me here. Maybe Frank de Boer is cursed? I think he might be cursed.

DSS Man of the Match

Josef.

His first game back in over a month and he didn’t disappoint. Two goals and he did it, like usual, by any means possible.

Build the statue.

Larentowicz Man of the Match (Your unsung hero(es))

Justin Meram.

The opening goal and a dangerous performance throughout the night. Oftentimes the most effective player in red and black on the field. The trade looking like a steal right now.

Quote of the Night

“You know that Josef is a winner. When he’s back on the team it gets everybody walking on their toes and to be very alert because he is a winner. I feel really sorry for him because you come back and you’re 3-2 up and you feel like he’s the man, and he’s still the man but now with only one point.”

-FdB

Tweet of the Night

What’s Next?

US Open Cup if you care about that kind of thing. Wednesday versus St. Louis FC at 7:30 p.m. Game is at Kennesaw.