Sean Davis, Hector Villalba - New York Red Bulls, Atlanta United - Close up
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What does history say about Red Bulls' chances with three-goal deficit?

The New York Red Bulls lost 3-0 to Atlanta United FC in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Championship Leg 1 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

With the series at halftime, as the old adage goes, what chances do the Red Bulls have of overturning the deficit and winning the series? FiveThirtyEight.com doesn't give them much of a chance, as Atlanta have a 94 percent chance to advance according to their model.

But what does history tell us?

Well, the history is not on their side either. Since the away goals rule went into effect in the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2014, there have been two series that have featured three-goal deficits after the first leg. In neither case (FC Dallas trailing Seattle Sounders in 2016; NYCFC trailing Columbus Crew SC in 2017) did the team trailing overcome it and win the series.

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The Red Bulls, who won the Supporters' Shield this year, beating out Atlanta United to that title on Decision Day presented by AT&T, scored at least three goals at home six times in 2018 regular season play, so hope may not be lost. However, the last occurrence came back on July 14 against Sporting KC.

Conceding three goals in a match isn't exactly characteristic for RBNY, something they did just four times in the regular season, most notably in back-to-back games against the Montreal Impact and D.C. United, although they still picked up a point in the second of those games.

So, will the Red Bulls pull off the unprecedented, or will Atlanta get a measure of revenge for the Shield? Stay tuned for Leg 2 of the series, on Thursday at Red Bull Arena (7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes, TSN2, TVAS2).


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