Frank de Boer: “They have quality players like Kaku and Florian Valot, who make the difference on the ball. They know exactly what they are going to do.” (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

ORLANDO — Atlanta head coach Frank de Boer heaped some praise on the Red Bulls after his team went down to a 1-0 defeat to them at the MLS Is Back Tournament Saturday night.

“They always play the same,” he said. “Very direct, a lot of long balls and then win second balls. They have quality players like Kaku and Florian Valot, who make the difference on the ball. They know exactly what they are going to do. It’s always the same, so straight-forward winning those duels and second balls and play from there. That’s a difficult tactic to play against.”

The Red Bulls certainly have Atlanta’s number, as in the number six as in six victories in nine games New York has won since the Georgia team entered Major League Soccer in 2017.

“I think we did a lot of times well, but we have to understand that we have to do better to win against this type of team,” de Boer said. “We had our chances, but it’s a tough opponent for us. They play a style that’s still suitable for us because we created room for ourselves. But when you are especially not really alert in some situations, they have a lot of men directly in front of our goalie. They showed that two or three times and suddenly were in on our goalkeeper, and we have to understand that we need to do better in those situations.”

Atlanta midfielder Mo Adams realized it was going to be different after the Red Bulls scored first – in the fourth minute.

“I think Red Bulls, of course, when they score that early in the game they just try to get behind the ball and keep things compact and tight,” he said. “So for us it was just about finding the pockets behind their front line to pick up the ball and be able to turn. But also being compact when we don’t have possession to keep an eye on their attacking players like Kaku who are able to thread the ball through so just be cautious un transition to not get caught out.”