New York welcome Atlanta to Red Bull Arena (1 pm ET | ESPN — Full TV & streaming info) in a top of the league clash. If ATLUTD win, they essentially wrap up the Supporters' Shield. If the Red Bulls win, they climb just one point behind the league leaders with three games left.
For the Red Bulls to get that win, Long has laid down the gauntlet of shutting out a side that's scored more goals than any other club in the league this season.
"I mean they are a great team, obviously they are leading the table right now," Long said after training on Tuesday. "We all know that they are faster in transition, they have good players going forward, a lot of different threats. Just getting our unit back, being able to defend and shut them out, at home, is first priority and we’ll get our goals."
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Atlanta have been held off the scoresheet just twice this season, once in March and once in May. They are on pace to crack top five in league history for goals in a season, needing 10 over their last four games to have the second highest goal tally in MLS history.
Josef Martinez has long broken the single-season scoring record and will look to add to his tally of 30 goals in 30 games this season; Miguel Almiron is second in the league in assists (14) and has added 12 goals; Julian Gressel is also tied for second in the league in assists.
The Red Bulls are best positioned to challenge Atlanta's imperious attack. New York has given up the fewest goals per game (1.06) this season and have kept clean sheets in each of their last three matches at Red Bull Arena.
Long anchors a defensive unit saturated with stars. Center back partner Tim Parker has also enjoyed a breakout season, earning his first caps for the US men's national team. Flanking them, Michael Murrillo and Kemar Lawrence may well be the best fullback duo in the league. Shielding the back four is Tyler Adams, a player who covers as much ground as anyone in the center of the park.
"I’m expecting the best," Lawrence said. "This is what we live for. I just want their best, simple as that. Bring everything you got from Atlanta and bring it to New York, bring it to New Jersey, and we will be up for the challenge. We’ll be ready."