ATLANTA — Just when it looked like Atlanta would win its first regular season match against the Red Bulls, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the tying goal at the 93rd minute in what would end in a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday afternoon.
With the match close to an end, Wright-Phillips scored off a pass that went through the middle of Atlanta’s defense and left BWP all alone in front of the goal, which he placed past Brad Guzan.
“When you’re so close to victory, whatever pass comes to your area, you need to stop it,” Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer said postgame.
“Maybe it was a good pass, but we weren’t tight at the moment, we have to understand it’s 30 seconds, 40 seconds to go so we have to try to get everybody in front of the goal, and it wasn’t enough because we worked hard and you go home with a bad taste in your mouth..”
Atlanta (9-7-3, 30 points) started the match on the right foot as Justin Meram scored the opening goal in the 10th minute after receiving a pass from Pity Martinez. On the play, Meram controlled the ball down on the left side of the field and placed his shot in the bottom right corner of the goal.
The score advantage was short-lived as Daniel Royer tied the match at the 37th minute off an assist by Marc Rzatkowski. Royer turned Atlanta defender Franco Escobar in the box and shot the ball into Guzan’s right side of the goal.
Just before the end of the first half, Red Bull’s Amro Tarek knocked down Josef Martinez in a hard foul during a counter-attack play for the Five Stripes, which left Martinez down in the ground for a solid five minutes but the foul didn’t lead to any major injuries. Although, central referee Kevin Stott only gave a yellow card to Tarek and also to Franco Escobar for dissent.
Early in the second half, the Red Bulls took their first lead of the match when Brian White scored a tap-in goal off a cross by teammate Alex Muyl.
But then came Josef Martinez, who was knocked down in the box by Kyle Duncan and scored off a penalty kick at the 70th minute to tie it all.
The goal by Martinez led to 20 minutes of soccer where Atlanta pushed their men forward and looked for ways to score the third goal and potentially the game-winner, which they accomplished in the first minute of stoppage time. A cross by Escobar on the right side of the field was perfectly set up for Martinez, who was able to head it inside the goal. Unfortunately, minutes later, Wright-Phillips scored the tying goal of the match.
“It was a difficult game, and it’s always tough to play against them, they’re a team that has been like a rock in our shoe for a while, but after we recovered and come back from the 2-1 deficit, we can’t give up that last goal,” Martinez said postgame. “We’re not little kids, we’re players with a lot of experience, guys with a lot of experience in this league, so you know there’s good things and bad things, and we have to learn from it.”
Right at the end of the match, Atlanta’s Jeff Larentowicz was given a red card as it seemed that he pushed one of the Red Bulls players just seconds before the ref blew the final whistle, which means that he will miss the next match against Seattle next Sunday.
Meanwhile, Atlanta will play St. Louis FC Wednesday night at Fifth Third Bank Stadium for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.