The New York Red Bulls picked up a huge result to open Group E play against Atlanta United on Saturday, taking a 1-0 victory courtesy of an early goal from Florian Valot and a highlight-reel late save from goalkeeper David Jensen.
Valot got RBNY off to a dream start just four minutes into the match, collecting a brilliant long ball from Kaku and finding himself on a breakaway against Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan before coolly slotting home the finish.
RBNY nearly doubled that advantage in the 25th minute off a cross from Kyle Duncan that found Daniel Royer crashing the back post completely unmarked, but Guzan made the reaction save to keep Atlanta within one goal.
Atlanta came inches from getting an equalizer from George Bello in the 41st minute, as the Homegrown left back unleashed a laser shot on goal from a difficult angle that he placed expertly over Jensen, only to see it hit the crossbar.
RBNY had a handful of chances to extend the lead in the second half, but couldn't quite capitalize, thanks in part to some excellent goalkeeping from Guzan. The Five Stripes nearly found the equalizer at the death, but a snap header from Adam Jahn was denied by a phenomenal sprawling save from Jensen, allowing RBNY to see out the 1-0 result.
- 4' - RBNY - Florian Valot | WATCH
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
Guzan has a solid shout even in a losing effort, but scoring the game-winner is always a good way to get the honors. Valot gets the nod for this one.
- THE BIG PICTURE: RBNY talked about how excited they were to resume play against Atlanta leading up to the match, and they played like it, coming out firing and looking the sharper side for much of the night. It's a huge result for Chris Armas and Co. On the other side, it's an inauspicious start to tournament play for Atlanta, but we'll hold off on formulating any rash conclusions until they log more games.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Valot's tally was the only goal and stood as the game-winner, making it the easy choice anyway, but spare a thought for that ball from Kaku. That's a world-class dime if there ever was one.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: There are many new broadcast wrinkles being introduced during the tournament, with a great glimpse of one of them coming in this contest as nearby cameras provided an inside look at Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer giving instructions during a hydration break in the first half.