Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls
2017 MLS Regular Season
Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA
Sunday, March 5 - 7 pm ET
WATCH: FS1 in the US | MLS Live in Canada
It’s one of the most anticipated matches of Opening Weekend. After all the buzz, Atlanta United FC will finally kick off their inaugural season in front of what should be a raucous crowd of over 50,000 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Their opposition? None other than the best regular-season team in the Eastern Conference from 2016, the New York Red Bulls.
While Atlanta have been building an expansion team from scratch, the New York Red Bulls have undergone significant changes of their own. The most notable are the departures of captain Dax McCarty and sporting director Ali Curtis, with new sporting director Denis Hamlett unveiled earlier this week. The rest of the team is intact, though, meaning they should still provide stern opposition to an Atlanta side looking to impress its numerous fans and observers around the league.
This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: CJ Morgante (bench side), Matthew Nelson (far side)
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel
Atlanta United FC
Atlanta won three of its four preseason games while scoring a combined 11 goals, with Designated Player signings Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron combining for seven of those. That may only boost expectations for a club that seems set on avoiding the early struggles that most face. The best expansion sides are often the ones that can find their feet defensively. In that respect, this will be a great early benchmark for Atlanta United, facing a Red Bulls side whose 61 goals last season were second-most in MLS.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: None
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Alec Kann — Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza — Carlos Carmona, Chris McCann, Miguel Almiron — Hector Villalba, Josef Martinez, Kenwyne Jones
Notes: Expansion teams playing their first ever MLS game at home are 3-2-1, but undefeated at 3-0-1 since Houston in 2006. … Jeff Larentowicz (5), Jacob Peterson (1), and Zach Loyd (1) are the only Atlanta United players who have scored an MLS goal against the Red Bulls.
New York Red Bulls
No side will face a harder logistical challenge in their opener than the Red Bulls, who will play in Atlanta just three days after facing Vancouver on the other side of the continent in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. Jesse Marsch will hope that his roster – the fourth-youngest in the league right now – can rebound quickly. But he may be forced to manage minutes for some of his veterans, especially if the Red Bulls progress to the CCL semifinals and have to consider another cup tie later in March.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: Tyler Adams (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: Connor Lade (knee)
Projected starting XI (4-2-2-2): Luis Robles (GK) — Kemar Lawrence, Aaron Long, Aurelien Collin, Sal Zizzo — Felipe, Sean Davis — Daniel Royer, Sacha Kljestan — Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gonzalo Veron
Notes: Since his arrival in June 2011, the New York Red Bulls played 163 regular season games with Dax McCarty – who was traded to Chicago in January – in the starting lineup, and 24 games without him. They averaged 1.6 points per game, regardless of whether or not McCarty started. McCarty only missed 2,715 regular season minutes in his time with the Red Bulls (playing 15,285 minutes).