Atlanta United used a first-half goal – after another was wiped off – to earn a gritty first-leg win over NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on Sunday evening. Eric Remedi scored the game’s lone goal after Miguel Almiron had one negated on replay 17 minutes earlier. They would lock things up from there – without Almiron in the second half – keeping NYCFC without a shot on target all game.
The opening 15 minutes was incredibly chippy as both teams began with a physical brand of play. A plethora of fouls led to some heated attitudes and fed the choppy flow. NYCFC seemed to have the better attacking mindset in the opening few minutes, but it would be Atlanta that found the back of the net first, or so they thought.
It was a bit of a fluky goal as Almiron – back from his muscle injury – took a swipe at a cross, and he flubbed it, driving it straight into the ground. It popped high up into the air, and managed to chip Sean Johnson into the back of the net. They checked with the VAR crew after the strike, and offside was called earlier as the short corner was played, ruling the goal out.
They would atone, however, as it would be Remedi to earn the opener in the 37th minute. Off a corner, Josef Martínez delivered an absolutely blistering side-volley that Johnson was equal to. The rebound, however, was pushed to the far post where Remedi was waiting for the tap-in.
There were very few chances after the break, as Atlanta held NYCFC without a single shot on target the entire match, while Atlanta had just four of its own. Almiron came off at halftime, and the visitors looked to protect its away goal. NYCFC put together a few good offensive spells, but just couldn’t muster anything for David Villa who came close in a couple of moments but failed to produce a goal.
The win sends Atlanta back home in a great position, owning the lead and an away goal. The only time they played NYCFC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the regular season was back in April when the teams played to a 2-2 draw.