Atlanta United ‘heartbroken’ by loss at Red Bulls

Atlanta United midfielder Amar Sejdic #13 dribbles during the match against New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, United States on Thursday June 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United midfielder Amar Sejdic #13 dribbles during the match against New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, United States on Thursday June 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

HARRISON, N.J. -- Atlanta United has experienced some excruciating defeats since its inaugural 2017 season.

The loss to Columbus in its first playoff game. The loss at Toronto with the Supporters Shield on the line. The loss to Philadelphia at home in the Champions League.

Thursday’s 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls joins that dossier of disappointing defeats.

The Five Stripes controlled the game. They scored the first goal when Josef Martinez toe-poked in a loose ball in the 75th minute. It was their first goal in seven games at Red Bull Arena. Manager Gonzalo Pineda got the tactics, personnel and new formation exactly right. But in a span of six minutes near the end of the game, all that was done correctly was undone because of two individual mistakes. With the loss, the team fell five points below the playoff line with a challenging game Sunday at NYCFC, the reigning MLS Cup winners.

“I would say that even the 90 minutes we were solid, it was just two individual mistakes at the end that cost us,” Pineda said. “This is very tough, to be honest. It’s very tough to be in front of you guys because I’m very, very ... not even disappointed, but it was heartbreaking.”

Pineda’s challenge now is to keep this loss from affecting the team for its next stretch of games, which includes five consecutive against teams above the playoff line in the Eastern and Western Conferences.

He said he hopes that it invites introspection among his coaching staff and players. The individual mistakes -- on Thursday it was a tackle by Caleb Wiley in the penalty box that resulted in a penalty kick, followed by Alex de John not hustling to reach a pass, which was stolen and turned into the winning goal in the 89th minute -- have been an issue all season. After a good run of three rallies to turn negative results into positive results, the team fell to 2-3-2 this season when tied at the 75th minute.

“I would say that it has to affect a little bit,” Pineda said. “It has to invite to self-reflection because collectively we did many, many things if not almost everything right. It was the self-reflection, the little details on the specific plays, lack of concentration. Eightieth minute, you are winning. Why we gave away that result so easy? Why? It’s lack of concentration. We are too comfortable, and then we don’t put all the focus, all the concentration and just slow down the game and just continue with the good performance.”

Two players, goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo and centerback George Campbell, said they don’t think the loss will linger. Rios Novo faced only three shots on goal and completed 91.1% of his passes.

“I think above all, we will take the performance away from this game,” Rios Novo said. “We played a solid game, and as you said, we played well but made a couple of mistakes. So we will take that away from tonight. Of course, we need to learn from the mistakes and continue to try and correct those.”

Campbell was one of a three-centerback line that Pineda used for the first time this season Thursday. Campbell led the team with 62 completed passes.

“I think we just need to play our game,” Campbell said. “New York City FC plays a different type of game than Red Bulls, on the ball at least, so we need to keep our composure when we have the ball. I think we will get results. It’s just a matter of time and cleaning up those mistakes. We have a strong group. I have no doubts that we will be back.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE