With the exception of a thrilling final five minutes that also saw Josef Martinez put Atlanta ahead in the 91st, this was a sloppy, physical, frustrating mess of a game.
Atlanta starts fast then disappears
The home team started strong, controlling possession and the overall tempo of the game. Playing on their front foot, Atlanta got on the board first after Pity Martinez threaded a perfect ball to Justin Meram, which he neatly tucked away past Luis Robles.
Atlanta slowed the pace down but looked in control until the 29th minute. Then center-back Florentin Pogba — who had looked among the best on the pitch up until that point — went out with an injury. The entire tone of the game quickly changed.
New York leveled the game eight minutes after Pogba’s departure as Daniel Royer capitalized on poor Atlanta defending to knock a left-footed shot into the top corner past Brad Guzan. The game went to half-time tied 1-1.
New York takes over in the second half
Whether it was the Red Bulls stepping up their game or Atlanta simply looking disorganized and disinterested, New York took command in the second half.
The Red Bulls took a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute when Brian White was left unchecked by a sloppy Atlanta defensive, easily burying a feed from Alex Muyl.
Another Pity-ful performance
Just as Pogba’s injury departure changed the game, so did a timely substitution in the 63rd minute by Atlanta coach Frank de Boer.
The micro Pity Martinez Experience is the perfect encapsulation of the macro experience of this game in general. Pity is capable of fleeting moments of brilliance, like his pass to Meram leading to the opener.
Mostly though, he’s sloppy, careless, lackadaisical and temperamental. He’s a frustrating and miserable player to watch.
Fortunately for Atlanta fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they didn’t have to deal with the Pity Martinez Experience past the 63rd minute. He was subbed off to absolutely no pattering of applause as Brandon Vázquez took his place.
Atlanta looked immediately improved.
They broke through in the 79th minute, as Josef Martinez drew a penalty in the box. Moments later, he leveled the game from the spot 2-2.
Five minutes of fury
Even in more turnover prone and careless stretches of play, the game had been chippy and physical throughout.
Everything amped up the final five minutes in stoppage time.
Josef Martinez netted a brace in the 91st minute, heading home a goal to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
Just two minutes later, BWP, who subbed on in the 77th minute for Brian White, tied the game 3-3 when Atlanta forgot the general concepts of defending yet again.
The Atlanta crowd went utterly silent at that point.
The players, however, did not.
The chippy play that had been building all game reached a boiling point in the 95th minute. A couple of on-field scrums nearly broke out, and the refs just decided to end the game, leaving the home crowd stunned.