Luis Robles: “They really got the better of us.” (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA — After a disheartening result in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final, Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas tried to look for some semblance of a bright spot heading into the second leg Thursday.

The Red Bulls were throttled, 3-0, by Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the MLS Cup Playoffs series Sunday.

“Look, it is going to be difficult,” Armas said about trying to overcome a three-goal deficit. “It always was going to be.”

But then he noted how the Red Bulls scored three goals at home against Columbus Crew SC after dropping the first game of the conference semifinals.

“We put ourselves in a hole, but we came out of a series where we scored three in our building,” Armas said. “That is the goal. That’s the starting point. We will score the first goal, and the rest will follow. We will come out a little bit differently with the energy and the fight that is going to be needed. It is pretty what is needed to be done. We are going to go home, and we are going to get it done.”

The Red Bulls will host Atlanta at Red Bull Arena in four days time.

“They really got the better of us,” goalkeeper Luis Robles said. “We came here with a plan and looking at the result you can see that we failed to execute our plan. So, there’s not much time. We just have to regroup and look forward to Thursday. It is very clear what we have to do and just go one goal at a time.”

Armas said the Red Bulls will press from the opening kickoff Thursday, something they did not do Sunday night. That essentially cost them the game. They allowed the hosts to dictate play and wound up chasing the game.

It turned out to be the first time the Red Bulls lost to Atlanta in five games.

“At home, we are very confident,” Armas said. “We love playing at home in front ofour fans and we have been great there all year. It is important for us to get a first goal early, and then press for the game. It is going to require absolutely everything from us to get the result.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at