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Red Bulls, on streak at home, host Atlanta United

Jun 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Red Bulls defender John Tolkin (47) plays for the ball against Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) during the second half at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls are in a crowded race for a top-four spot in MLS’ Eastern Conference, especially now that they are starting to win at home.

New York will seek its third straight home win when it hosts Atlanta United Thursday night in Harrison, N.J.

The Red Bulls (7-5-5, 26 points) begin this week one point behind New York City Football Club, who are visiting FC Cincinnati on Wednesday. New York has won its past two home games after opening 0-2-4 at home but is 2-3-0 in its past five games overall with each loss being by a 2-0 result.

The Red Bulls are hoping to get two of their top players back from the health and safety protocol after missing captain Aaron Long and midfielder Luquinhas in a 2-0 loss at Los Angeles FC on Sunday when it gave up both goals three minutes apart in the second half. Both players could return Thursday but first must test negative twice for COVID-19.

“Atlanta’s got a lot of quality, they got a lot of individual quality,” the Red Bulls’ John Tolkin said. “But it’s nothing we haven’t seen. If we stick to our principles, we should have no problem. Our home form is really good. We’re all really excited for this game.”

Atlanta (5-6-4, 19 points) will spend the weekend in the New York area as it visits NYCFC on Sunday. Atlanta is 1-5-1 on the road, including 0-4-1 in a five-game road winless streak.

Atlanta United’s road struggles continued Saturday when they took a 2-1 loss at Toronto. The United gave up a goal in the eighth minute and allowed the tiebreaking goal in the 78th minute in a game that marked the first MLS start of Aiden McFadden but also saw Atlanta get two shots on goal.

“A lot of good plays, we just couldn’t capitalize on that in scoring more goals,” Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “And obviously, the individual mistakes on the back, maybe costing us a lot more. And that’s part of the nature of the game.”

–Field Level Media