The New York Red Bulls have a "big test" coming up against Atlanta United FC.
"We're looking forward to next weekend," Head Coach Jesse Marsch said.
The Red Bulls will face off against the team at the top of Major League Soccer, with Atlanta holding 25 points through 11 games (2.27 points per game). New York enters the match with 18 points through nine matches (2 points per game).
"We have already had some big tests recently and it has not been an easy stretch, but our group has stayed strong," Marsch said. "Physically, they have handled themselves well and have set us up for success. It will be a big challenge going down to Atlanta, but one we are really excited for."
New York returns to Georgia for the first time since the first match of the 2017 MLS season -- and the first match in Atlanta United history -- where the Red Bulls won 2-1 to spoil the party in front of 50,000-plus at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"I think our players are established enough that they have played in enough difficult environments and tough places," Marsch said. "Now, this will be unique: that crowd, that stadium, the noise, everything -- will be fun. I think that our guys have shown in big games that they enjoy those moments, they enjoy the pressure, they enjoy going up against a good opponent. I expect us to rise to the challenge, but we will go after it that much I know about this group that we will go after it."
The two teams will meet up for the first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"The guys are prepared for whatever is thrown at them, and they are going to stick to who we are and not going to waiver. We are going to find ways in games to do the things and accomplish the things that we want to accomplish," Marsch said. "We can not have complacency. It can’t stop, it can’t feel like it is just built in or its just there, it is about every day, now, that we are making sure we are up for the challenge."
Daniel Royer tied the game up against Atlanta in their first meeting in 2017 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"I remember it really well, it was amazing, the crowd was amazing, it was their first game in MLS so the crowd was going crazy and I think we enjoy that everybody was against us and I remember we had a really good team spirit in that game," Royer said. "We can’t wait to go there, in the new stadium, new atmosphere, a great team that we are playing against. Sets up for a great soccer game."
Royer is looking forward to playing in front of a large rival crowd.
"That is what you want as a soccer player," Royer said. "I mean, of course it is a little bit nicer when the crowd is for you, but it is also really nice when it is against you, I don’t know, I think I like it."
Following the Atlanta match, the Red Bulls return to Red Bull Arena to take on the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, May 26 at 7 p.m. for Military Appreciation Night. The first 15,000 fans that come to the match will receive a free koozy, courtesy of Bayer. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster or Fevo, where $3 of every ticket sold will be donated to K9s for Warriors.