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MLS is Back: Early Valot goal lifts Red Bulls over Atlanta United

Kickoff may have been delayed due to poor weather, but the New York Red Bulls wasted very little time once the game got going.

A fourth-minute goal from Florian Valot paced the Red Bulls to a 1-0 victory over Atlanta United in their MLS is Back Tournament opener on Saturday. Valot stunned Atlanta United in the Group E match that was delayed approximately 45 minutes due to a rainstorm, finishing cooly after Alejandro ‘Kaku’ Romero Gamarra sliced the defense with a gorgeous one-timed through ball.

Atlanta United had several chances to pull level, but was unable to to make the most of them. George Bello’s golden look in the 41st minute smacked off the crossbar, and Manuel Castro failed to put two decent chances on frame early in the second half.

Second-half substitute Adam Jahn also saw a goal-bound header saved in stoppage time. Jahn directed the ball towards the top of the net, only to have Red Bulls goalkeeper David Jensen paw away the would-be equalizer.

The Red Bulls could have added to their lead prior to all that, but could not find a way to get past Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan again. Daniel Royer was denied by Guzan’s leg early in the first half, and Cristian Casseres was also stoned on a 1-on-1 look in the 43rd minute.

Valot could have doubled his haul and the Red Bulls’ advantage shortly after the hour mark, but he fired the ball over the net from in close despite being fairly open.

The Red Bulls are back in action on Thursday against the Columbus Crew, the same day Atlanta United faces FC Cincinnati.

Man of the Match

Kyle Duncan: He may not have been directly involved in the game’s decisive moment, but Duncan was a menace defensively. He recovered the ball repeatedly and made a number of clearances, helping the Red Bulls preserve the shutout and the victory.

Moment of the Match

Earl goal, early winner: Kaku’s delicious dime set up Florian Valot just four minutes in, and the Frenchman made the most of the opportunity with a composed finish that paced the Red Bulls to a tournament-opening victory.

Match to Forget

Manuel Castro: The Atlanta United forward was poor on the night, with his wasteful finishing summing up his performance. He had two near identical chances that could have put his side on even terms early in the second half, but he somehow sent them both wide of the frame.

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