Red Bulls Aided By The Officials? Atlanta Gripes

New York Red Bulls 3, Atlanta United FC 1
2018 MLS Regular Season Match 10
Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 7 p.m. ET
Mercedes Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Ga.
Scoring Summary: 
ATL - Ezequiel Barc 3 (unassisted) 26'
NY - Daniel Royer 3 (PK) 42'
NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips 7 (Michael Amir Murillo, Kaku) 51'
NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips 8 (Kaku, Florian Valot) 55'
Misconduct Summary:
NY - Florian Valot (caution, unsporting behavior) 29'
ATL - Jeff Larentowicz (caution, unsporting behavior) 49'
NY - Tim Parker (caution, time wasting) 57'
ATL - Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (caution, unsporting behavior) 65'
ATL - Greg Garza (ejection, serious foul) 71'
NY - Connor Lade (caution, unsporting behavior) 90+5'


Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Georgia


Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino


On use of VAR, officiating tonight, and if he was given an explanation on Martinez’s disallowed goal and the penalty


“No explanation. Who was controlling VAR? I didn’t know. But I didn’t see the play. Surely, upstairs and with a television he saw it very well. So it was Mark Geiger? The same one who officiated the match against Kansas City? I didn’t know? I just found out.”


On if that changes anything and his opinion of the calls


“No, I wanted to know who it was, and you guys told me, so that’s it. I don’t think anything. Really, there was nothing. On the penalty, nothing. On the goal, goal. On the sending off of Larentowicz, it was a foul on the Red Bulls player. Aside from that we played against a very good team. But when two good teams play, we need something more even, more fair on the calls.”


On the delay of the VAR after the initial expulsion of Larentowicz


“I think sometimes we don’t differentiate what a bad call means and what a bad call that is ratified by VAR means. I’m talking about the emotional aspect of a team. Above all when it’s continuous. Because we should have entered the half two goals ahead and we end up going into the half 1-1. And the referee makes the decision that it was a red card, and he made the decision, on a play that is a foul on the Red Bulls player. The distance between a direct red card and a foul on the other team is very big to hand out a red card and the infraction was on the other team. And what I think, in this case about the referee who is in charge of VAR, is to minimize the mistake of the referee. Because he can’t say, “no, it’s a foul on the other team,” so he gives a yellow card, but the call is for the same team. But what they’re doing is covering for each other, and it’s logical because they’re co-workers.”


On if VAR had a direct influence on the game


“I don’t want to take away credit from Red Bulls, so I don’t want to justify it wth VAR, because Red Bulls is a very good team and the same thing for Kansas City, but the reality is that both games had the same protagonist, and when I say the same, I’m not talking about the referee. I’m talking about the same person. In one game he refereed and in the other he reviewed. And they were decisive in the outcome of the game. Really, the play on the penalty they call, very few times have I seen that called even a foul, let alone a penalty. It’s very difficult to understand that someone could have seen a foul, however they call a penalty. And it was to be, at minimum 1-0 at the half. And everything adds up. The penalty. The goal taken away from Josef. The red card on Jeff. They were very important situations in the game.”


On if VAR is being used as coaches were told it would be


“Sometimes, since I don’t understand the language well, I don’t know how they’re using it. But definitively what I think is someone has to review it and they’re reviewing it wrong. But the idea of VAR should be another. I’m not completely in disagreement with VAR. But remember I said the same thing last year about the game against Philadelphia. When Philadelphia had a player sent off, I said it was impossible for review to send the player off if the referee missed the play completely, unless it’s about a play away from the ball or an elbow in another area of the field. But how it is that a referee misses a call in the play, when he’s right there, how is he going to need VAR to be told from above it’s a direct red card. Impossible. Today it’s the same. Today the referee took out a direct red card, and in reality it was a foul on the other team. So between reviewing everything, and the person reviewing is getting things wrong. I got 10 messages from Argentina asking me “who reviews VAR”. Because it’s hard to believe that someone can call that penalty, and someone reviews it and still sees a penalty. I invite any of you to watch the play. There was nothing. Nothing. But that’s how things are. And again the worry is for you all because the person reviewing VAR is going to the World Cup. It’s going to speak poorly of you all, not me.”


On the team’s performance during the first half:

“I think we played a good first half. There were periods of the first half where we were in control of the game, but there were also periods where the Red Bulls were more in control. But I think the difference was during the moments that we were in control, we created at least three good scoring chances and we had one goal. During those periods, the Red Bulls didn't create that many dangerous scoring chances. However, we prepared for this game like it was a final because I think that is how the Red Bulls prepares for every one of their games. Because of their intensity. It would have been nice to be talking about soccer and 11 versus 11, because I thought it was an interesting game. But instead, we’re talking about other topics.”


On the 3-5-4-2 formation:

“We thought this was the best system for the Red Bulls press. I think the key for us was to have one of those three centerbacks be able to play that first pass into one of the midfielders. You saw that on a number of occasions that they were able to do that and it led to direct scoring chances.”


On Tito Villalba’s performance:

“Tito went into a difficult situation unfortunately, but of course, he can provide a lot to the team because you've seen all last year and this year that he was and is a very important player. We don’t expect anything less from him. Right now, my job is to put the best team on the field to win. He played well just like we expected.”


Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan


On the three goals:

“First one, penalty. Second one, speaking with (Michael Parkhurst), obviously, it was a good ball in. I’m not exactly sure how they come about in terms of delivering a free cross. Bradley Wright-Phillips is dangerous. He’s proven that year after year. He’s a good player. Then, the third goal, we were a bit sloppy with the ball… We weren’t great with the ball tonight. We were a bit sloppy. We weren’t tidy. Too many careless passes. Too many bad touches. Listen, at the end of the day, we weren’t good enough today, so we’re not making excuses. We were not good enough, but obviously, there were some other issues that influenced the game to a certain extent.”


On the reason for the team’s success in the first half:

“We knew that they were a team that would like to get after you and get in your face and press you. At the same time, they leave some spacing behind… The second goal that Josef (Martinez) scored that was called back, I don’t think that’s a foul. I think he’s going down and he’s looking for a foul there. It’s a last-ditch hope that he gets a call. They end up going back and looking at it and deciding that it’s a foul. The first half, we created some chances. We probably weren’t clinical enough in our attacking third. They had two chances in the second half and they took them.”


On defender Miles Robinson’s performance:

“Miles is getting better game by game. You get better by playing games. Going through experiences, it’s hard to replicate certain match-day experiences. He’ll continue to get better. We believe in him. He’s more and more confident on the ball. He’s a tough defender to play against. We see it every day in training, so this is just another step for him to continue his progress.”


Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst


On the momentum shift in after the penalty kick:


“Perhaps. We played almost a perfect first half. We did exactly what we wanted to do. We created three or four good chances to score. We really kept them at bay and until the penalty, so it was unfortunate that we went into the half 1-1, but the response in the second half wasn’t good enough. There were some crazy things with the red card that doesn’t get a red card, but, still, we just didn’t make enough plays in the second half.”


On how Bradley Wright-Phillips broke free:


“That’s my guy. I knew he was there. I thought the ball was going to get played in behind us (and) over my back shoulder. I never saw that he got right in front of me. Once he has that step in front of me, I’m just trying to block his header because I know he’s going to win the header. You know it’s a perfect header. It’s definitely my guy.”


On the team missing chances to score:

“Goal scoring is the toughest thing to do in this sport. The keeper made some good saves. Of course, we want to have those chances back and we want to finish those if we’re up two or three to zero at halftime then we think we really like our chances to seal things up, but that doesn’t happen. The important thing is the reactions and after the first couple of misses, we had great reactions. You know Josef (Martinez) had a big miss, then comes back, and scores that goal, which was big for us, and then it gets taken away, but the response was good. It’s good that we are creating those chances. Usually we finish them. Sometimes there are some streaky things. You know, maybe next game we score all of them and cruise. You just never know, but it’s good that we’re creating them.”


Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pírez


On the team's focus and the calls:


“The callback on the goal by Josef (Martinez) was stupid because (Tim) Parker ran to one side and Josef ran to the other side, and we passed the ball (to Josef). Then, the (referee) called a foul. That is a foul?  That is real?  It is stupid. It’s the same. Every single week it is the same. This is the first problem.”

On the tempo of the game:

“I thought in the first half that we were controlling the game. It was a fairly even game up until the penalty that they had. I thought we were controlling the game and obviously, the calls started going against us. The calls seemed to be going more against us as we play all these games. There was a penalty called on us, but then there’s a penalty on Miguel (Almirón). In the second half, there was a foul on Miguel on a counter attack, and they didn’t call it. Then, the Red Bulls turned around and scored on that play.”


Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco


On tonight’s game:

“It was a very difficult game. We expected it to be a hard game. We were able to get the first goal to take the lead, but then they were able to come back. The game turned a little ugly and things got more complicated for us. We’re sad with the result, but we just have to lift our heads up.”


On Tata’s message at halftime:

“Tata just asked that Miguel (Almirón), myself, Josef (Martinez) and everyone to try to find more space on the wings and get in behind the defenders and midfielders. I think we were able to find some space, but then we had a player sent off and the game just got even more complicated.”


On what the New York Red Bulls’ defense did well:

“I think for most of the game we were the superior team and then, we had a player sent off and that doesn’t help things. I think we were superior. We just know that we have a lot of things to keep working on.”




New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch


On tonight’s match:


“A difficult game, an emotional game, a fast game. I advertised it to our team before the game as a heavyweight fight and that there were going to be punches thrown. Both sides. We had to be prepared to take punches at times, but we had to be prepared that when we had chances to really deliver some punches, some knockouts, that we were ready. That winds up showing up in ways where we were able to finish some plays off, but it also shows up in that we are able to defend some moments. That would include Ryan Meara. Ryan made some big saves for us. We all know he is a great goalkeeper. It’s one of the hardest jobs in this league to play behind Luis Robles because he is so reliable, he is so good and he is so ready for every match. But we have known the whole time that Ryan is still a really good goalie and an important guy around here. He showed it last year in the Open Cup run, and he showed it again today. Whenever you see a guy like that get a moment and a chance to show what he is all about in a big game, you get really happy for him. The whole team gave him a standing ovation in the locker room, so that was really good.”


On the discussion at halftime:


“The discussion at halftime was that it was a good game. We tried to make a couple of adjustments tactically because they were putting a lot of guys on our backline and they were rotating (Miguel) Almirón, (Ezequiel) Barco and (Darlington) Nagbe. In a lot of ways, they were trying to get Almirón away from Tyler Adams, so we were trying to then talk about what kind of rotations we would want to make, how we would want to step to deal with certain moments. So, I think that was important. Then, the other thing we said was, once we won the ball, we were going for the final ball too much. Once we had a guy run and their line would back up and then we would have moments to put the second pass that would lead to the third and the fourth pass, and that was how we should think about being dangerous. Ultimately, we wound up getting the two goals in that manner. I thought the adjustments made at half were good and I thought overall we had good performances all across. A bunch of guys emptying the tank. Very clear on what their roles were and the tactics and the gameplan. Very good execution and some really good play from our team.”


On the atmosphere:


“It’s awesome. Coming down here to play in front of that crowd, in this stadium – awesome. What a fun moment for this team and for any team who gets to come play here. What a fun game this is. And I think that a lot of these moments, in the years that I have been here, have brought out the best in our team, and no doubt that they did tonight.”


On Josef Martinez’s overturned goal:


“Clearly it affects the game, but the point of VAR is to make sure that we get the most important plays in the game correct. So, I felt live that it was a foul. I thought that the referee could have called it a foul. He clearly, I thought, clipped him and tried to use his strength to knock him over, and that ultimately let him in on the goal. I think the VAR got it right. I thought the VAR, and I would have to go look at it again, but I thought the breakaway with (Florian) Valot should have been a red card. He was in on goal and he is the last man. That’s denying a goal-scoring opportunity. For me, that was obvious. But that one didn’t go our way. Then, I don’t know how much the VAR was involved in (Greg) Garza’s red card, but I think that was a red card. Overall, I like VAR, but you know it is in the balance sometimes. Because you are just watching it live and you can’t see all of the details, you never know what you are going to get. But for the most part, if we go back through our time, most of VAR that we have had has been right. They have gotten the call correct, even in the smallest of margins.”


New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips


On the team’s mentality entering this match:


“First of all, with Luis (Robles) out and Ryan (Meara) in, obviously Luis is a great keeper, but when Ryan has to step-in we are full of confidence. How he trains and what he has done since he played in the Open Cup last year, there is not too much difference. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are obviously the best team right now in the East, obviously the top of the table. I think in Supporters’ Shield. We knew it was going to be tough for us, but I think our back line has been very good this season. When you have a backline like that to build off of, it gives the attackers a bit more time to get the attacking game going. I think that is what has been happening this season.”


On New York’s backline tonight:


“They are the guys that have been starting, but I think the players we have used, whoever we have used, Champions League or MLS games, we are not letting up much goals. And if we are, they are not really from open play. Everyone, it is not just those guys, obviously they have been starting so they are getting all of the headlines, but just today – Connor (Lade) is just back off of injury. You have Aurélien (Collin) on the bench. We are lucky right now with the defenders we have gotten. I think it has been shown with the amount of goals we have not conceded.”


On pressing Atlanta:


“That’s how we play. I think a team like this, and even New York City, they are too good. If you sit back and watch these teams, you get punished. I think the best way to approach it is get in their face. It doesn’t always work, but it has today.”


New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer

On the team’s recent success:


“There are always things that we can do better. In general, I think that we have a really good foundation. I think it is tough to play us. Our defense is great, and it is hard to play against our defense. They are strong and fast. We are trying to win back balls. We are trying to press a lot, and we are trying to make good transitions in order to be dangerous. I think it has worked pretty well.”


On how the defense helps the attacking players:


“I think it works with four in the back, but I think it also worked out with five in the back. We changed a little bit of our style, but I think right now both systems work well, but I think it doesn’t matter if it is four or five because all the defenders are doing well. It makes life easier for our attacking players.”


On Bradley Wright-Phillips:


“I mean he is amazing. We don’t have to discuss his qualities. It’s crazy this guy can score at any time. Even though he said he is not as good with his head, that ship left already because he is really good with his head. He can score at any time, and he is so important.”


On the team’s confidence with the high press:


“It is not our style to sit back. I think our style is pretty unique. We always try to press. Sometimes, we do more (and) sometimes we do less, but today we wanted to press all the way. We wanted to show them that we are a good team as well. Maybe better than them, maybe on the same level, but you never know before the game. I think it worked out really well especially in the first twenty minutes. I think we could see that they had to keep the ball, and they didn’t really try to play through us. We struggled at certain times, but that’s how it is in a big game. I think we did a good job especially in the second half.”

New York Red Bulls: Ryan Meara; Kemar Lawrence (Connor Lade, 83'), Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Michael Amir Murillo, Tyler Adams (Derrick Etienne, Jr., 79'), Sean Davis, Daniel Royer (Alex Muyl, 90+5'), Kaku, Florian Valot, Bradley Wright-Phillips ©
Atlanta United FC: Brad Guzan; Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Miles Robinson (Hector Villalba, 65'), Michael Parkhurst ©, Greg Garza, Jeff Larentowicz (Kevin Kratz, 64'), Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel,Ezequiel Barco (Sal Zizzo, 72'),Miguel Almiron, Jose Martinez
Referee: Christopher Penso
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: Mark Geiger
Bradley Wright-Phillips' second-half brace paced the New York Red Bulls (7-3-0, 21 pts) past Atlanta United FC (8-3-1, 25 pts), 3-1 on Sunday night at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
The Red Bulls extended their overall win streak to four matches and raise their road-winning streak to three games.
Atlanta United opened the scoring as Ezequiel Barco picked up possession off a deflected ball inside the 18-yard-box and snuck one past Ryan Meara in the 26thminute.
As time was winding down in the first half, New York earned a penalty kick chance in the 42nd minute. Daniel Royer stepped up and chipped it in for the equalizer.
Wright-Phillips put the match away, heading two consecutive goals in a four-minute span to give the Red Bulls the win.
Royer hit his first penalty kick of the year and fifth of his career in MLS. Royer is perfect 5-for-5 in penalty kicks for his career.
BWP recorded 16th career brace and 20th career multi-goal performance. Wright-Phillips moved in a tie with Robbie Keane for fourth all-time in league history with 20 multi-goal league games.
Wright-Phillips improved his career goal total to 94 leagues goals and 111 across all competitions.
BWP has rattled off his sixth-straight match with a point. Wright-Phillips owns the longest active point streak in league play. During his stretch, BWP has tallied five goals and four assists.
Wright-Phillips' goal in the 51st minute was his 23rd career league game-winning goal. BWP moved into a four-way tie for 15th place all-time in MLS with Robbie Keane, Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio.
Kaku tallied his third career multi-assist performance with two assists. He extending his assist streak to four consecutive matches, which is the longest active streak in league play.
Kaku raised his league-leading assist total to nine.
Michael Amir Murillo has tallied an assist in back-to-back matches as he recorded the primary assist on BWP's first goal.
Ryan Meara made his first start in net for the Red Bulls since July 8, 2012. Meara made his first league start overall since March 24, 2015 when he played for NYCFC on loan.
Meara tallied a game-high six saves, just one shy of his career best mark.
Captain Luis Robles missed the match with a knee injury, ending his MLS Ironman streak at 183 consecutive matches started.
With Robles missing the match, BWP was given the honors as captain.
New York's defense held the second-best offense in MLS to one goal, just the fourth time this season Atlanta has been held to a goal or less.
Head coach Jesse Marsch improved to 55-34-23 at the helm in New York. Marsch also raised his away record at New York to 17-26-13.
New York is 48-43-22 all-time in the month of May. The Red Bulls have tallied 174 goals and have allowed 162 in the fifth month of the year.
New York returns home for Military Appreciation Night against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, May 26. The Red Bulls and Union kickoff at 7 p.m. ET on MSG, MSG Go and New York Red Bulls Radio in English and Spanish on TuneIn