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Red Bulls rally to spoil Atlanta United’s MLS debut


A dream start for Atlanta United seemed to be in the cards on Sunday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but a tactical switch by Jesse Marsch and an equalizer soon after ruined the expansion side’s MLS debut.

A Daniel Royer header, and an own goal from Anton Walkes, in the final 15 minutes handed the New York Red Bulls a 2-1 victory on Sunday night.

The moment the crowd in Atlanta was waiting for came in the 25th minute, as an open Yamil Asad latched on to a Tyrone Mears cross near the left side of the net. Both players received plenty of space to work in as the Red Bulls defenders occupied the center of the penalty area.

Atlanta surged forward on countless occasions after taking the lead, with Paraguayan playmaker Miguel Almiron creating several chances, but a second scoring opportunity could not fly past Luis Robles, who made three saves in his 141st consecutive appearance.

In the 75th minute, Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann bobbled a routine denial on a Felipe shot, which led to a rebound attempt being knocked for a corner kick. On the ensuing set piece, Daniel Royer flew through the box to nod home Sacha Kljestan’s corner from the left wing.

Seven minutes later, Kemar Lawrence burst forward on an overlapping run on the left wing and found Bradley Wright-Phillips a few yards from the net. The ball appeared to go off the boot of the prolific forward, but replays showed the ball went off the knee of Walkes, a second-half substitute for Atlanta United..

Things went from bad to worse for the expansion side in the 88th minute as Carlos Carmona dug a foot into Red Bulls midfielder Felipe while Felipe was laying on the ground. The midfielder was immediately shown a red card by referee Mark Geiger.

Atlanta will look for its first victory next Sunday when it visits Minnesota United, while the Red Bulls will host Colorado on Saturday.

Man of the Match

Marsch deserves credit for bringing in Mike Grella and Derrick Etienne and lighting a spark under the Red Bulls, but Luis Robles kept the Red Bulls in the game with a few impressive saves against the dangerous counters produced by the home side.

Moment of the Match

Kann’s blunder on what is normally an easy save on a shot from distance allowed the Red Bulls to set up a corner that led to the equalizer. From that point on, the visitors carried all the momentum.

Match to Forget

Anton Walkes will remember his MLS debut, but he’ll want to forget scoring the first own goal in Atlanta United history, even if he knew very little about it.

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