New York Red Bulls host Atlanta United at Red Bull Arena on Thursday (8pm ET) and these are MLS teams chomping at the bit to get back on track after negative recent results. Can either regain the winning thread?
Things had been going smoothly for RBNY, but last time out, even with some pleasing form behind them, they were no match for the rampant Western Conference leaders, losing by two goals to nil at Banc of California Stadium. Such a result will undoubtedly have disappointed Gerhard Struber, but if he was going to be OK with his side coming up short against anyone then it probably would be LAFC. What’s more, the Red Bulls boss knows how strong his side have been at home, where they’ve won each of their last four in all competitions, so he ought to remain upbeat ahead of this fixture.
Like the hosts, the Five Stripes had gone into the previous weekend on the up after beating Inter Miami, but they couldn’t make it two wins on the spin. Nor could they salvage a point from their trip to Canada, where they lost at the hands of Toronto, going down to a 78th minute goal after forward Luiz Araujo pulled his side level after the break. Things went from bad to worse on the road, which is where they’ve been anything but comfortable this time around. Atlanta’s luck will change at some point, though a trip to Red Bull Arena doesn’t exactly present Gonzalo Pineda’s men with a gilt-edged opportunity.
RB Arena tough to visit
There are a few venues in MLS that are particularly feared and Red Bull Arena is one of them. Though the hosts haven’t exactly been prolific winners at home this season, strangely picking up more wins on the road. They have still been difficult to face in front of their own fans, falling to defeat in only two out of eight, losing none of their last five, the last two of which they’ve won. So it has been a case of the hosts building momentum at home of late.
In their last five at home, Struber’s men have kept two clean sheets and have only conceded more than once on one occasion. NYRB have conceded 0.9 expected or less in three of those five, so defensively, they are quite sound, while a total of ten goals scored in their last four at Red Bull Arena suggests that they’ve got no shortage of firepower.
Same old story
It was the same old story for the Five Stripes last time out, as they struggled to get going away from the comforts of home, losing for the fourth time in five traveling fixtures. They’ve now lost five out of seven on the road in Major League Soccer this season.
It is not that Pineda’s men tend to receive a battering on the road, losing by no more than single goal in any of their last four defeats, but they’ve made a habit of creating less than their opponents. That is why they keep getting beaten to the punch. Even more worryingly, they lack the end product to hurt teams on their travels, as a total of six goals scored in seven fixtures suggests.
Not Atlanta’s game
This game has given those playing for Atlanta United little joy in recent years. The New York Red Bulls have won four of the last seven renewals of this fixture, while the Five Stripes are without a win during that time.
Moreover, Thursday’s visitors have never gone to Red Bull Arena and returned home with all three points, and they’ve attempted to do just that on five occasions. When they last visited the New Jersey venue, they did claim a point, tying 0-0 back in November of last year. Interestingly, each of the last two renewals of this fixture have ended goalless.
Historically, this hasn’t been much of a high-scoring game, with only four of the previous 12 meetings containing three or more goals. Either a single goal or less has been scored in the last four, while both teams have scored in just one of the last nine games between NYRB and Atlanta United.
Home goals on the horizon
From a betting point of view, home goals are easy to side with. The hosts have been in fine scoring form at home of late, netting nine times in their last three at Red Bull Arena, notching at least twice in each of those three, while their average of 1.65 expected goas per 90 minutes bodes well too.
Throw in that the visitors aren’t exactly known for keeping things tight on their travels, with Pineda’s men conceding two or more in each of their last four traveling fixtures, and ‘New York Red Bulls to Score Over 1.5 Goals’ starts to appeal. The Five Stripes have also surrendered xG numbers of 1.7, 2.1, 1.6 and 2.0 in their last four on the road, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they struggle to handle what is a very capable RBNY attack.
Love for Luquinhas
If a player prop is what you seek, then show some love to Luquinhas, who has been in fine form for the Red Bulls in recent weeks. The Brazilian has scored in each of his last two, while he has now scored four goals in his last three at home. 0.52 goals per 90 minutes shows a player who knows how to hurt the opposition, which is a promising sign ahead of a fixture against a less than sturdy Atlanta rear-guard. So these are the RBNY vs ATLUTD predictions and betting picks for this MLS game preview: