Match Recap - Atlanta United 2-1 NYCFC
New York City FC traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium kicking off their two-game road campaign against Atlanta United.
This Eastern Conference Showdown was the first meeting between the two teams since the 2018 MLS Playoffs which ended in heartache for the Boys in Blue against the eventual champions.
As Dome Torrent was on a mission to earn his first win against Atlanta United, he made four changes to his Starting XI.
Maxi Moralez made his return to the midfield after taking time to rest. He was accompanied by Ebenezer Ofori, Anton Tinnerholm, and Taty Castellanos, who all also came back into the lineup.
Castellanos earned his way into the striker role after putting on an explosive performance against the Houston Dynamo, with his sixth and seventh goals of the season making for an exciting finale in the BX.
As City took to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one of the toughest stadiums to play in the MLS, they looked to put their best foot forward to draw another positive result on the road after slipping to defeat at RSL.
Atlanta United kicked off the match dominating on their home turf. They maintained possession and created back-to-back attempts early in the game for the 2018 MLS MVP Josef Martinez, but he was denied on multiple occasions by an in-form Sean Johnson.
However, the East’s top-scorer would not be denied.
Pity Martinez took a free-kick short to Julian Gressel, who found the cross for Josef Martinez to head past Sean Johnson. Atlanta were on the board for the opening goal of the night in the 43rd minute, putting the home team up 1-0 before halftime.
In the second half, City came out of the locker room looking to find the equalizer and the road team eventually started to create opportunities, with Castellanos nearly putting his side on the board after a nice run in from the goalline.
Shortly after, captain Alex Ring and Moralez connected meaningfully outside of Atlanta’s box, putting Brad Guzan on his toes, but unfortunately, City’s attempt was shot too far to the right.
Although they weren’t able to capitalize on the play, they were beginning to ask serious questions of the home side but De Boer’s side reversed the trend and doubled their lead on 63’.
The referee awarded the defending champions a penalty kick after a foul by Sands on Pity Martinez and his namesake Josef stepped up and beat Johnson from 12 yards.
As City was down by two, Torrent put Héber into the match in 66th minute in search of their first goal of the night.
Fifteen minutes later, Héber found it, scoring his tenth goal of the season, putting NYCFC back within striking distance after a nice assist from Castellanos.
As the clock ran down, City played to the final whistle in search for the equalizer but Atlanta held firm to take it 2-1.