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Atlanta United vs. New York City FC | 2018 Conference Semifinal Preview

Atlanta United vs. New York City FC
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs — Conference Semifinals, Second Leg
Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Atlanta
November 11 — 5:30 pm ET

With an away goal in their back pocket, Atlanta United return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the driver’s seat for the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday following a 1-0 win over New York City FC at Yankee Stadium a week ago.

In a contentious battle that featured more fouls in the first half (22) than any other MLS match this season and more fouls over 90 minutes (39) than any other conference semifinal, Atlanta effectively quieted NYCFC playmaker Maxi Moralez and capitalized on a set piece to hand the Cityzens their second home loss of the year.

After having a goal called back for offside following Video Review, the Five Stripes took the lead in the 37th minute when Eric Remedi guided the rebound of a Josef Martinez free kick parried aside by Sean Johnson inside the near post for his first career professional goal.

NYCFC looked more dangerous in the second half, but didn’t manage one shot on frame and have an uphill climb to avoid a third consecutive ouster in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Atlanta United are unbeaten in their last four meetings against New York City FC (2W-2D), including their last match in the first leg. NYCFC was the first team to be held scoreless in this series.

Atlanta United

A high-flying attacking juggernaut that led MLS with 70 goals scored during the regular season, Atlanta were pragmatic to earn what was arguably the most important, and impressive, victory of the soon-to-be-ending Tata Martino era.

They stifled NYCFC’s attack, with fouls when necessary, cleared the ball long out of the back at times, and took their chance on a set piece for what the Five Stripes call the blueprint for road success in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Martino also gambled a bit, starting Miguel Almiron after the Paraguayan playmaker missed the last two games of the regular season with a hamstring injury. Almiron’s return appeared to provide the needed spark and he was subbed off at the half after Remedi scored the all-important road goal.

“That’s the way you have to play every game, regular season or the playoffs, it doesn’t matter,” Martino said. “That’s the attitude. In the first half, I think we played some really good football. In the second half New York City had a little bit more of the possession.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: M - Eric Remedi, M - Hector Villalba, F - Josef Martinez
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Sal Zizzo (right knee injury), D - Mikey Ambrose (right knee surgery), F - Brandon Vazquez (foot injury), D - Chris McCann (left quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: Jeff Larentowicz (muscular)

Projected Starting XI
(5-3-2, right to left)
GK: Brad Guzan — Franco Escobar, Jeff Larentowicz, Michael Parkhurst, Leonardo Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza — Darlington Nagbe, Eric Remedi, Julian Gressel — Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron

  • Notes: Remedi’s goal for Atlanta in the first leg was his first for the club on what was his 10th shot of the season. He is the sixth Atlanta player this season with at least one goal and 10-or-fewer shots — only Houston (eight) had more such players. … Atlanta is unbeaten in 10 straight games at home (7W-3D), their second-longest unbeaten streak at home in franchise history (12 games, May 20-Sept. 24, 2017).

New York City FC

NYCFC have not advanced past the Eastern Conference Semifinals and they’ve only won four times away from home during the regular season, but they head to Atlanta with confidence that they have what it takes to erase a a one-goal deficit and beat the Five Stripes Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The blueprint to accomplish their task, NYCFC coach Dome Torrent believes, was laid out in the second half at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s impossible to connect in between Yangel [Herrera], [Alex] Ring and other players and especially with Maxi [Moralez] because he’s [marked] man-to-man and he decide to play in the middle,” Torrent said. “No, no. it’s a big mistake. He could play like a winger. That is the change we made in the second half.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Maxime Chanot, D - Ben Sweat, M - Maxi Moralez, M - Alex Ring
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Cedric Hountondji (hamstring avulsion)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Sean Johnson — Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat — Alex Ring, Yangel Herrera — Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Maxi Moralez, Ronald Matarrita — David Villa

  • Notes: David Villa took four shots in the first leg for NYCFC, none of which found the target. It was the second time this season he took at least four shots and did not put one on target - the first time coming in April against Real Salt Lake. … NYCFC are winless in their last five road games (4L-1D). They failed to score more than one goal in any of the five games.

All-Time Series (Regular Season)


Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Matthew Nelson, Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
VAR: Dave Gantar

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