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New York City FC vs. Atlanta United | 2018 Conference Semifinal Preview

New York City FC vs. Atlanta United
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs — Conference Semifinals, First Leg

Yankee Stadium — Bronx
November 4 — 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, TSN, TVAS

New York City FC are hoping to carry momentum from a Knockout Round win over the Philadelphia Union into the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when they host high-flying Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium Sunday night.

While NYCFC have beaten the Union in back-to-back games by identical 3-1 scorelines in the Bronx, as the No. 2 seed, Atlanta United earned a bye into the Conference Semifinals and are hoping to rebound from a 4-1 defeat in Toronto on Decision Day presented by AT&T that resulted in their Supporters’ Shield hopes going up in smoke.

NYCFC and Atlanta United played to a pair of stalemates during the regular season. At Mercedes-Benz Stadium in April, Greg Garza and Chris McCann gave the Five Stripes leads in each half, but David Villa (PK) and Alex Ring equalized twice in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

At Yankee Stadium in June, Josef Martinez gave the visitors the lead three minutes into the second half, but Alex Callens leveled in the 77th minute, scoring at the far post after Villa flicked on a Maxi Moralez corner kick in a 1-1 draw.

New York City FC

NYCFC advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series for the third consecutive year after defeating the Union, 3-1, in the Knockout Round Wednesday night.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi put the Cityzens in front on 10 minutes with a stunning left-footed volley from outside of the box. The hosts doubled their lead in the 26th minute when Moralez slipped a perfect ball to Villa, who finished low. Moralez, who had a pair of assists, put the game away in the 78th minute when he chipped Andre Blake.

“We are confident at home. For me, in my opinion, it’s much better to play at home against Atlanta,” Villa said. “Now, Atlanta is an amazing team, they did very well all of the season, but when we played against them, we hurt them a lot in some moments. They did as well against us and I believe that on Sunday we’ll be ready to take a good result for going to Atlanta with confidence.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Maxime Chanot, D - Ben Sweat
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Cedric Hountondji (hamstring injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Sean Johnson — Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat — Alex Ring, Yangel Herrera — Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Maxi Moralez, Ronald Matarrita — David Villa

  • Notes: Moralez had a goal and two assists against Philadelphia in the Knockout Round. He was the only NYCFC player this season to have a goal and two assists in the regular season. … Dating back to last season, New York City FC has lost just one of their last 21 league home games, including the postseason (14W-6D). In that games, they have kept nine clean sheets and allowed multiple goals twice.

Atlanta United

For most of the season Atlanta United were the best team in Major League Soccer. But they were leapfrogged by the New York Red Bulls on Decision Day following a stunning loss to Toronto FC.

Lucas Janson and Marky Delgado gave the hosts a 2-0 lead after 21 minutes. Martinez scored his 31st goal of the season with a penalty kick in the 77th minute to give Atlanta late life, but Janson and Sebastian Giovinco scored five minutes apart late to spoil what would have been a historic moment for ATLUTD.

Now they look to turn the page and try to make a different kind of history by winning their first playoff game with or without Miguel Almiron, who missed the final two regular season games with a hamstring injury.

“Something new is starting. It has nothing to do with the regular season and what ended today. This season, putting aside the game tonight, we did very well but now we have to focus on the playoffs. We have to try to make sure that what took place in the last 90 minutes doesn’t have an effect on our performance.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Sal Zizzo (right knee injury), D - Mikey Ambrose (right knee surgery), F - Brandon Vazquez (foot injury), D - Chris McCann (left quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: M - Miguel Almiron (left hamstring injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Brad Guzan — Julian Gressel, Michael Parkhurst, Leonardo Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza — Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Remedi — Hector Villalba, Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco

  • Notes: In the 21 games that Hector Villalba started for Atlanta United, the Five Stripes averaged 2.2 goals per game and won 66.7% of those games. In the 13 games that Villalba did not start this season, Atlanta averaged 1.8 goals per game and won 53.8% of those games. … Atlanta United won 10 of their 17 league road games this season (5L-2D), tied for the third-most road wins ever in a season. However, they did lose their last two road games by a combined 6-1 scoreline.

All-Time Series (Regular Season)

Officials

Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Alex Chilowicz

Read More

Current Form

NYCFC
Atlanta

Season Stats

New York City FCAtlanta United FC
35Games Played34
17Wins21
10Losses7
8Draws6
62Goals70
46Goals Conceded44
426Shots407
181Shots on Target203
475Fouls committed346
373Fouls suffered374
82Offside77
197Corners173

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
NYC4101362621.8
ATL381355702.1
01234+Avg
NYC146522.2
ATL135442.5
01234+Avg
NYC367101.4
ATL258111.6

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
NYC1011851461.3
ATL816442441.3
01234+Avg
NYC891000.6
ATL3103101.1
01234+Avg
NYC227512.1
ATL561321.5
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