The toughest week of Atlanta United’s 2022 schedule has been one to forget. The Five Stripes were outplayed by a struggling Toronto on the weekend before two infuriating late errors threw a solid performance and long-awaited first goal at Red Bull Arena out the window. And yet, the suffering still isn’t over. Atlanta ends its venture across the North with a visit to Yankee Stadium and reigning MLS Cup champions New York City FC. What could go wrong?
If there was a time to play the Citizens, now would probably be it. Manager Ronny Deila stepped down after two and a half seasons in charge to take charge of Belgian club Standard Liege in the middle of June. Former assistant Nick Cushing, who’s had experience at Manchester City Women, stepped in as interim for the remainder of the season, but the Englishman is still on the hunt for his first win on the job. New York is winless in four games in all comps under Cushing, with draws against Colorado and Cincinnati and losses to the Red Bulls and Philadelphia on his record. In turn, City has fallen to a lowly 4th place in the East on 28 points, one short of the top spot with a game in hand and the best expected goal differential in the conference. Most concerning so far from Cushing’s tenure would be New York’s defensive woes. They’re yet to keep a clean sheet in four games after going on a run of seven straight before Deila left. Most glaringly, City conceded 3 to the Red Bulls in Open Cup play and 4 in a wild midweek draw to Cincinnati. If Atlanta’s done the impossible of scoring at Red Bull Arena, surely putting a few past New York City isn’t out of the quesiton.
While City has struggled at the back of late, its offense is as electric as ever. New York have the second most goals scored in the East (31) and have been shutout just once since April. Reigning Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos, who wasn’t even available when New York put four past Cincy, leads the way with 8 goals while young Brazilian winger Talles Magno (4g, 4a), Maxi Moralez (6a), Thiago Andrade (4g, 1a), and Santiago Rodriguez (2g, 5a), form a daunting supporting cast, though all can take charge of games on their own. Anyways, Atlanta’s defense isn’t exactly known for being a juggernaut so this one might uh have some goals.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: NYCFC 4-2 Atlanta United
The good news? There should be a boatload of goals. The bad news? Most of them will probably come from the team with a MLS Cup banner the size of a science fair poster.