Atlanta United draws with Red Bulls, held scoreless again

Team earns two points from three games played in eight days

Atlanta United’s long stretch of three games in eight days ended with a 0-0 draw with New York Red Bulls Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The team earned just two points, both at home, from the three games and may have lost midfielders Franco Ibarra and Jurgen Damm to injuries. The team will next play Saturday, July 3 at Chicago.

With the draw, Atlanta United (2-2-6) is winless in its past five and has 12 points from its first 10 games under manager Gabriel Heinze. The total is tied for the team’s second fewest in its first five seasons. The team is one point from the seventh and final playoff spot.

Atlanta United has scored just 11 goals in the 10 games and was shut out in consecutive games for the first time this season. It finished with 13 shots, just three on goal, to Red Bulls’ seven and four. The announced attendance was 42,575.

“Obviously it’s tough when you aren’t scoring goals,” midfielder Santiago Sosa said. “Today we had chances. A shot hit the post. This is soccer. We are trying to score goals. We aren’t able to at the moment. Once we are able to then things are going to change. Sometimes, the ball just doesn’t want to go in and right now it’s not going in.”

The team also remains winless against the Red Bulls in regular season games, falling to 0-6-3.

The defense posted its third shutout this season.

“Always keeping a clean sheet is good,” centerback Miles Robinson said. “It’s something you can build off of. It was a competitive game. These guys are a high-pressing team, so it’s never going to look pretty out there.”

Heinze went back to the starting lineup used a week ago in a 2-2 draw with Philadelphia, the game that started the streak and the team’s best chance for a win. It gave up two goals in the final 10 minutes to drop two points. It followed with a 1-0 loss at NYCFC in what was its worst performance this season.

Erick Torres started at striker with a midfield of Erik Lopez, Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno, Ibarra and Santiago Sosa. Fullbacks were Brooks Lennon and George Bello. Centerbacks were Robinson and Anton Walkes. Brad Guzan started in goal. The team was without midfielder Damm, who picked up another “lower body” injury after recently returning from a similar issue, striker Josef Martinez, who is with Venezuela for the Copa America tournament, and Emerson Hyndman, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Red Bulls were without several key players, including centerback Aaron Long and midfielders Daniel Royer and Cristian Casseres.

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) dribbles against New York Red Bulls Sunday, June 27, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

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Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Atlanta United started slowly, as has been the case in most games this season. It was slow to most of the loose balls. It didn’t take its first until a Torres’ header in the 33rd minute. It went wide.

The team lost Ibarra to a hamstring injury in the 34th minute. He appeared to go down without contact. Centerback Alan Franco came in for Ibarra in the 37th minute.

Franco promptly gave up the ball with a horrible back pass to no one. New York’s Dru Yearwood was first to the ball. He passed to Patryk Klimala who shot and forced Guzan into a double save in the 39th minute. He blocked the first shot and then turned around and stopped the ball from rolling over the line.

The switch to three centerbacks, which pushed Sosa and Bello and Lennon higher up the field, enabled Atlanta United to begin to control possession and the game.

Atlanta United’s first shot on goal came in the 46th minute when Torres hit the ball with his thigh from 18 yards right at the goalkeeper.

Jake Mulraney came on for Lopez in the 71st minute.

Atlanta United had a bright spell of possession in the next few minutes but, as has been the case in most games, couldn’t convert it into goals. Shots by Walkes, Moreno and Sosa were either hit wide or saved.

Moreno forced a save in the 83rd minute after reaching an excellent cross by Mulraney. A shot by Torres was blocked in the 89th minute. Another shot, a header by Robinson, hit the post a few seconds later.

“Both teams were physical, strong,” Heinze said. “Both teams like to position themselves close to the opponents. It’s true that in the second half we changed our position on the field. We found the style of play we wanted.”


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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN

July 21 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FS1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE