Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls: Three questions

Atlanta United (8-2-1) will host New York Red Bulls (6-3-0) on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a game of two of the best teams in the MLS Eastern Conference this season.

Michael Lewis (@SoccerWriter), one of the best in the business, answered three questions about Sunday’s matchup:

Q. After their final meeting last season, Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch accused Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino and his staff of telling their players to kick the Red Bulls players. Has he ever explained why he said that, or brought it up this week? 

A. I don't recall Marsch explaining why he said that. Through Tuesday's press briefing, Marsch had not brought it up. 

Q. Gamarra has been a real find for the Red Bulls. What makes him so influential in New York's attack?

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A. Marsch took his time allowing Gamarra transition into the team as the Argentine did not start during the team's CONCACAF Champions League run this year. He wanted to make sure Kaku was ready to play and the play-making midfielder has lived up to his expectations. Gamarra makes it look easy while setting up teammates, almost reading their minds as to where they will be in the attacking third. Sometimes he will send a teammate a pass few people in the stadium were expecting. I've also been impressed with him off the field. Prior to his first press conference with the Red Bulls, I walked in front of the podium. Gamarra smiled and said hello to me, a stranger. I said welcome aboard and he said thank you. I realize he is still learning English but I don't remember too many new players on soccer teams I have covered through the years doing that. He always seems to have a smile on his face.

Q. What is the key matchup in this game and how do you think it will go? 

A. Assuming Atlanta keeps the same formation as last week, I would say Michael Parkhurst covering Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips is playing his best soccer this early in the season this year. Not only has he been his usual self as a lethal striker, Wright-Phillips has set up several teammates on goals. It's like having another midfielder in the lineup. Parkhurst will have his hands full trying to shut down the Red Bulls striker.

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