HARRISON, N.J.— The series we’ve been waiting for is nearly upon us.
Luis Robles, like Wright-Phillips, borrowed parallels from boxing to forecast the matchup.
"I think it's the series MLS wanted," Robles said. "It's going to be track meet. That said, we have to be strategic. There'll be times, like in a heavyweight fight, we're going to take a blow. We have to be able to weather that, receive it, be very cautious and meticulous about when we strike back."
The Red Bulls have done a great job of knowing when to strike and when to be reserved against Atlanta, better than any other club in the league thus far. Atlanta have yet to beat the Red Bulls in their two-year existence as a club, losing three of the four matches they’ve played, the most recent of which at the end of September with the Shield on the line. Wright-Phillips was suspended due to yellow card accumulation while Tyler Adams missed out due to injury and New York still got the job done.
Alex Muyl reckons the head-to-head record is a fact not soon forgotten in Atlanta.
“I think naturally it’s going to be on their minds, it’ll be a talking point for them that we were able to beat them in the regular season and end up winning the Supporters’ Shield,” Alex Muyl said. “For us, it’ll be about resetting and taking it for what it is. The playoffs are a different animal. We think we’re set up to do well but it’s going to come down to performances.”
Both the Red Bulls and Atlanta were convincing in progressing through the Conference Semifinals. ATL earned a professional, hard-fought win at Yankee Stadium in Leg 1 against NYCFC before taking care of business at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with minimal fuss. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, calmly overturned a 1-0 first leg deficit into a 3-1 aggregate win with another strong performance at Red Bull Arena.
“Of course we do (look forward to playing them),” Daniel Royer said. “They’re a great team, they have individual class and played a great season so far. But we also have good memories playing against them this season, we just want to continue where we left off.”