Seemingly spellbound by the glorious hair of Red Bulls midfielder John Tolkin, the Five Stripes once again found themselves unable to pass through their New York opponents.
Head coach Gabriel Heinze made his return to the touchline after serving a suspension last match due to yellow card accumulation, and brought with him Cubo Torres back into the starting lineup. Jurgen Damm returned to the injury list just before the match, so was unable to appear after coming on as a late sub Wednesday night.
As is traditional in matches between these two sides, fouls were abundant early on, and the physical play made it difficult for either side to create much from open play. The Red Bulls’ high press also caused issues for Atlanta United in the opening stages of the game, forcing numerous defensive turnovers, but nothing materialized for the away side to seriously threaten Brad Guzan.
In the 37th minute, an injury to midfielder Franco Ibarra forced Heinze to make an early sub, bringing on defender Alan Franco in his place. Minutes later, while still adjusting to his sudden inclusion into the match, Franco misplayed a pass to Wikelman Carmona, who played the ball over to Patryk Klimala, ripping a shot that Brad Guzan was able to reach, but unable to stop. The ball continued towards the goal line, but Guzan was quick to pounce back on top of it before it was able to cross.
Things wouldn’t really heat up until the later stages of the match, with the few shots for both teams in the meantime easily handled by each goalkeeper. The substitution of Jake Mulraney in the 70th minute brought some much needed energy to the game, and Heinze was nearly rewarded for his change just eight minutes later. A beautiful display of skill and subsequent cross from Mulraney created a scoring opportunity for Brooks Lennon, whose shot on frame was well dealt with by Carlos Coronel for the Red Bulls.
Mulraney found himself on the ball again in the 83rd minute, finding Marcelino Moreno in the box, who in a moment of chaos managed to shoot while halfway laying on the turf and surrounded by defenders. However, it ended up being an easy save for Coronel, and the game continued scoreless.
The last big chance for Atlanta came in the 89th minute, a corner sent in by Lennon was met by Miles Robinson, who rose above the rushing mass of players and met the ball well with his head. The ball crashed off the left goalpost, though, and was cleared to safety by the Red Bull defense.
The two sides held each other off for the remaining four minutes of stoppage time, and the match ended just as it began, with zeros next to both crests. With the result, Atlanta remains winless through their last five matches, and earned a joint-league leading sixth draw of the season.
The Five Stripes will now look ahead to a trip to Chicago as they face the bottom of the table Fire at Soldier Field on Saturday.