It was the fourth win in their last five games for the Red Bulls (5-5-2), who moved above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, while Atlanta (6-4-2) had a five-match winning streak snapped, continuing a scoreless streak in Harrison that stretches three games.
“It feels great. It feels great to win. It feels great to win at home in the fashion that we did,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. ‘It’s great to see our guys commit the way that they did on every play for the entire game.”
In his second appearance since signing fro Red Bulls II, and what might have been his first touch on the ball, Barlow latched onto a back-post service by Danny Royer and headed back across the goal as Brad Guzan unsuccessfully scrambled back to try and save it in the 65th minute.
“Dream come true. I couldn’t picture a better day,” Barlow said. “A perfect moment. Happy we got the win and happy I scored my first goal. So, it was awesome.”
Sean Nealis started the sequence by breaking up the Atlanta attack, pushing the ball through midfield and passing ahead to Royer as the Five Stripes’ MLS shutout streak of 520 minutes.
“Well, Danny’s [Royer] got a great right foot, he put in a great ball, and Tom [Barlow] did his job and finished,” Nealis said. “So I didn’t really have to do much on that play.”
The Red Bulls’ press nearly resulted in the game’s first goal three minutes in, but Marc Rzatkowski fired his shot off the crossbar after a forced turnover.
Rzatkowski forced another turnover in midfield, this by Pity Martinez, which set up another scoring chance, but Brian White was unable to get much on Kaku’s back-post service in the 15th minute.
Momentum switched to Atlanta midway through the first half and the visitors first sniff came in the 29th minute when Josef Martinez was played behind on a sensational service by Julian Gressel. Martinez cut back on Amro Tarek, who went to the ground, but the central defender recovered by poking the ball away.
“From the beginning the ball hit Kemar Lawrence and it changed a little bit, that’s why it got over me,” Tarek said. “But I’m happy that I just kept going and made a good tackle and saved the ball.”
Tarek slid to intercept a ball intended for Josef Martinez by Hector Villalba four minutes later for an Atlanta corner kick.
The match took a turn in the 35th minute when Tim Parker was sent off by referee Robert Sibiga for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity for pulling back Martinez as the last defender. That forced Armas to make a tactical substitution, bringing on Nealis, a rookie central defender, for midfielder Andreas Ivan.
“The holding offense was by RBNY Tim Parker denied the obvious goal scoring opportunity,” the officiating crew said in a statement to a pool reporter.
May 19, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) warms up before his game against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Despite having a man advantage for 55 minutes, Atlanta couldn’t capitalize with head coach Frank De Boer blaming fatigue — the club played its third match in eight days and played at Vancouver Wednesday.
“It’s always difficult to win here, but I think we were the better team with 11,” he said. “With 11 when they dropped, we couldn’t manage to create really good chances and yeah, maybe it’s because we had a long stretch. We show a lot of sloppy passes. I don’t think it was lack of concentration. It was maybe tiredness, I think.”
The match, which had a playoff-type intensity to it, boiled over late with a confrontation between Kemar Lawrence and Hector Villalba extending past the final whistle and also included Red Bulls goalkeeping coach Preston Burpo and Guzan being physically separated.
“You know, football, guys get passionate,” Lawrence said. “He was saying something. And I was just there looking at him. I’m not gonna try to push him or hit him or anything like that. No, I was just looking at him. Say what you want to say, but after the end of the day, it’s just football.”
The Red Bulls, who are now 3-0-1 all-time at home without conceding a goal against Atlanta,
have a short turnaround and will host the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena, while Atlanta head to Rio Tinto Stadium to meet Real Salt Lake Friday.