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Lewis Morgan dashes Five Stripes’ Playoff hopes

Atlanta United’s MLS Cup Playoffs hopes took a huge hit as they fell 2-1 at home to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday evening.

With the Eastern Conference tightly packed, the Five Stripes went into this match knowing only a victory would do. However, after a fast start, Atlanta quickly crumbled, conceding two goals in four minutes to leave themselves with a mountain to climb.

Yael Averbuch West hosted none other than Christian Fuchs for the latest episode of Football Americana. The Charlotte FC captain provided insight into the creation of Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team, and bringing European culture into the American side.

First, Scotland international Lewis Morgan applied a clinical finish to a sweeping Red Bulls move on the right in the 11th minute – the same number of goals Morgan has scored so far this MLS campaign.

And just four minutes later, John Tolkin’s cross into the box evaded everybody and found its way underneath goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo to hit the back of the net. An offside flag was initially raised as RBNY striker Patryk Klimala appeared to interfere, but a lengthy VAR review showed that he was in an onside position.

The Red Bulls continued to prey on Atlanta United throughout the first half but couldn’t find another goal, while the hosts showed some life after the break with a change of shape and personnel.

However, it took until the final minute of the match for the Five Stripes to finally find a way through, with Josef Martinez finishing inside the box to take his MLS tally to 100 goals in 150 appearances – the fastest player in league history to reach a century.

It’ll be little consolation to Martinez or Atlanta United, who remain 13th in the East after 25 games and with little hope now of making the post-season. As for RBNY, they’re on 40 points and are beginning to look safe in the Playoff spots.

Here are the full player ratings from Wednesday’s clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

GK: Rocco Rios Novo – 6/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory on the second goal but made up for it with some big saves to keep Atlanta United alive.

RB: Ronald Hernandez – 4/10 – Off the pace and an obvious candidate to be replaced at half-time.

CB: Juan Jose Purata – 6/10 – One of the few Atlanta United players who came anywhere close to decent.

CB: Alan Franco – 6/10 – Similar to his defensive partner. Both were left too exposed.

LB: Caleb Wiley – 5/10 – Offered little offensively and had a mixed night at the other end.

CM: Santiago Sosa – 5/10 – Had a thankless task trying to hold down the midfield basically on his own. Overrun.

CM: Marcelino Moreno – 3/10 – Offered very little in attack, the odd nice pass aside. Left Sosa to battle the constant RBNY onslaught.

RW: Ronaldo Cisneros – 4/10 – Neat and tidy but didn’t test the Red Bulls’ defense anywhere near enough.

CAM: Thiago Almada – 7/10 – Created a few openings but didn’t have much help from those around him. Did well on the Atlanta United goal.

LW: Luiz Araujo – 5/10 – Tried to take the game to RBNY but ran down too many dead ends. Provided the assist for the late consolation.

ST: Josef Martinez – 5/10 – A couple of half-chances aside, barely got involved until the final moment when he grabbed his 100th MLS goal.

SUB: Andrew Gutman (46′, for Moreno) – 6/10 – Added a little more life to Atlanta United. Missing the final ball.

SUB: Brooks Lennon (46′, for Hernandez) – 5/10 – Couldn’t find his mark with his crosses.

SUB: Dom Dwyer (64′, for Cisneros) – 6/10 – Certainly asked more questions of the RBNY defense but needed better service.

SUB: Edwin Mosquera (64′, for Wiley) – 4/10 – Didn’t have the desired effect.

SUB: Amar Sejdic (85′, for Sosa) – N/A – No time to get involved.

GK: Carlos Coronel – 7/10 – Wasn’t too busy but did what he had to well enough.

RB: Kyle Duncan – 8/10 – Completely dominant down the right flank at both ends of the field.

CB: Sean Nealis – 7/10 – Barely tested, steady.

CB: Aaron Long – 7/10 – As above. Rested near the end.

LB: John Tolkin – 8/10 – Grabbed the second goal, which was slightly fortunate, but Tolkin made his own luck with a great performance.

CM: Daniel Edelman – 8/10 – The teenager looked every inch an MLS player. Made some great forward runs and never let Atlanta settle into the game.

CM: Dru Yearwood – 8/10 – Was a powerhouse in the first half, breaking up Atlanta attacks and driving the ball forward. Forced out early in the second half with an injury.

RW: Lewis Morgan – 9/10 – Excellent finish to open the scoring with his 11th goal of the 2022 MLS season. A constant threat on the break and had Atlanta United on the backfoot all evening.

CAM: Cristian Casseres Jr – 8/10 – Two assists as part of a creative masterclass.

LW: Luquinhas – 7/10 – Was the quietest of RBNY’s forward line but still had his moments.

ST: Patryk Klimala – 7/10 – Wasteful in front of goal again but brought others into play and put some serious miles on the clock.

SUB: Andres Reyes (53′, for Yearwood) – 6/10 – Had an easy night, but got the job done.

SUB: Cameron Harper (68′, for Luquinhas) – 6/10 – A couple of bright moments but didn’t really affect the game.

SUB: Dylan Nealis (81′, for Long) – N/A – Had next to nothing to do.

SUB: Tom Barlow (81′, for Klimala) – N/A – As above.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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