3 Up 3 Down: Red Bulls on Parade

What went right and what went wrong last Sunday

Jarrett Smith
May 23, 2018 - 11:05 pm

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The 3 Up 3 Down segment is entering the Leprechaun movie franchise territory.

They are sporadic, questionable in quality and maybe one or two steps away from taking place in space.

That being said, The Five Stripes will probably want to skip to the space part after what happened in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday night. Let’s take a look at the aftermath.

3 UP

Tito Villalba

Villalba has been the odd man out for Atlanta since Barco started playing games and even before he became something of a super sub he was not necessarily thriving as the second forward in Atlanta’s 3-5-2 formation. He had double-digit goals and assists last season as a right winger and striker in Josef Martinez’s absence so you know it is not a talent thing. Sometimes a guy just does not fit in a specific role and that is ok. Given what we have seen from him over the last three games though, Villalba needs to start against New England. I am not sure how they put him on the field but he has been too dangerous to ignore for a team that has struggled to put away chances over the last few weeks.

Miles Robinson

Robinson got handed his toughest task of the season and aside from a soft penalty he handled himself rather well. One of the big knocks on Robinson has been his issues with the ball at his feet, which is the exact thing New York can punish. Robinson hit the eject button a few times and had a few rough touches early in the match but grew into it rather well and even delivered a few pretty passes to break the press and force New York to reset their defense. There is still plenty of room to grow for Robinson, and given his progress so far that is another feather in the cap of Eales and Company with their first draft. He will have to learn after veteran striker Bradley Wright-Phillips played him like a fiddle to draw the penalty but fans should feel much more reassured seeing his name on the lineup sheet.

ATL UTD’s Depth

This is as much next week as anything as Atlanta will be without Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Greg Garza after yellow card accumulation and a straight red card, respectively. One big plus to the 2018 edition of the club has been the improved effectiveness of the depth pieces to step in and not miss a beat. They will be asked to do so in New England and Atlanta should also get Chris McCann and Franco Escobar either healthy or on the doorstep of health. Getting points in a game like the one coming up will be vital to the collection of hardware at the end of the year. Sal Zizzo and Mikey Ambrose may be asked to play a role as well and if you want a silver lining after this week, it is that Atlanta should be able to weather the storm and expect at least a share of the spoils.

 

3 DOWN

Finishing

First off, there will be no VAR discussion here. It has been beaten into the ground and there were other factors that impacted this game aside from that. This is a problem at this point that is annoying if nothing else. There have been a few instances where keepers have stood on their heads but there are also some chances that the attackers for Atlanta will surely want back. The club is still creating chances at a pretty good rate so there is no need to sound the alarm just yet but when they have missed more than a few chances to kill games off so far this year, it is understandable that some people may be looking at that alarm bell if things do not change going into the summer months.

Julian Gressel

Gressel had his first really quiet game in a while. New York did a solid job on him and he was not really able to get moving. There is no reason to consider it anything other than a blip on the radar in what has been a magnificent second season for him, but it was still disappointing. Depending on who is available next week in New England it may not be out of the realm of possibility that he gets a look at right back. His ability to overlap with Villalba and play the cut-back pass is thrilling on paper and definitely worth a look at some point.

Jeff Larentowicz

This is not something anyone expected but it happens. Larentowicz just had a rough game with the ball at his feet and it reflected in the numbers. He had the second lowest passing accuracy on the team Sunday and his misplaced ball in an attempted counter lead to the third New York goal. He is another one that you look at, shrug, and expect to see him bounce back from. His red card-turned-yellow card was not great and it is arguable that he should not have even seen a yellow card. As it stands he is one yellow away from an automatic suspension. What Atlanta would do in that situation is anyone’s guess. It was his first bad day in a while and all you can do is hope that it is his last.