After heart-pumping debut, Atlanta find plenty of room for improvement

ATLANTA – The New York Red Bulls spoiled the first match in Atlanta United’s history. But Atlanta fans still got to see some of the flair and speed promised by the club.

The first 20 minutes heightened the anxiety of the 55,000 in attendance. That is, until the 25th minute. Atlanta United right back, Tyrone Mears, hit a cross clear over the Red Bulls defenders, landing directly on the left foot of Yamil Asad for the first goal in Atlanta history. Atlanta’s anxiety swiftly became immense joy.

“To be honest, it was very nice. If you ask me before the game, I dreamt about it. But, it doesn’t do any good because the team lost,” Asad said after the match. “I’m grateful for the fans and the support they gave us the whole time and hopefully we can get better.”

The lone goal wasn’t enough to give the 55,000 the post-match celebration it hoped for, as the Red Bulls would go on to win, 2-1, thanks to a pair of late goals. But, the effort was certainly there.

“We worked hard – very intense on both sides. Perhaps in the second half we lowered the intensity. We couldn’t convert our chances and in soccer if you don’t covert, you can give the game away,” Asad said. “We have a full week to work and go out next weekend and play and win. It’s the first game so we’re just getting started.”

While chaotic inside the first 20 minutes, things settled for Atlanta United and the Red Bulls attack diminished throughout the first half and into the second. Atlanta had the majority of the possession and severely limited what the Red Bulls could do in the final third. The final 15 minutes painted a different picture, however, one that saw Atlanta squander its chances to put the match away and, ultimately, a final 15 minutes that saw the club concede two goals.

Atlanta head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino saw much of the same.

“The chances were created, which is most important. Unfortunately we didn’t score because of pressure or failing to make the final pass,” Martino said. “The final 15 minutes were a lesson on how to manage a game on the part of the Red Bulls. The final 15 minutes soccer wasn’t played. Between fouls and players going down, the 15 minutes passed without the ball being played.

“We have to be a team with a lot more pause. Not go so vertically, manage the time. In that sense, the Red Bulls taught us a lesson in the last 15 minutes in how to pass the time without compromising the result.”