Atlanta United falls to the Red Bulls in tourney opener

Atlanta United fell to New York Red Bulls 1-0 in its opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Although Atlanta controlled play throughout the game with a 14-4 shooting advantage, it couldn’t find an equalizer late in the match despite piling on pressure. The club will continue group play Thursday, July 16 against FC Cincinnati.

Florian Valot opened the scoring in the fourth minute, capitalizing off a slow-building counterattack. Kaku played Valot through just past midfield, where Valot was alone with only Guzan in front of him. After a few touches, Valot dribbled just inside the box and slotted into the left corner to give New York an early lead.

Atlanta had a chance to equalize late in the first half when Pity Martinez played George Bello in on goal. Bello ripped a left-footed shot past David Jensen, but it deflected off the crossbar to keep New York in the lead.

Atlanta controlled play for the majority of the second half and continued to knock on the door late, forcing Jensen to make four saves overall. Second-half substitute Adam Jahn had arguably the club’s best chance late in stoppage time, but his header was saved by a diving effort from Jensen.

Atlanta is now 0-1-0 (0 points) in the MLS is Back Tournament. The top two teams in Group E automatically qualify for the knockout rounds, while the top four third-place finishers will also qualify. Atlanta continues group play against FC Cincinnati on Thursday, July 16 (9:00 a.m., ESPN, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game). In regular season play, Atlanta moves to 2-1-0, (6 points).