On Saturday at Gillette Stadium the New England Revolution (1-0-1, 4 pts) will take on Atlanta United (1-0-1, 4 pts) in the third MLS regular season match of 2021. New England v Atlanta will kick-off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on myTV38 & MyRITV (Rhode Island).
It has been quite a while since New England last played Atlanta United. The last time these two Eastern Conference teams faced off was on 10/19/19 in the first round of the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs. That match ended in a 1-0 defeat at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. All-time the Revolution have yet to win a match against Atlanta with an 0-5-2 record and 0-1-2 at Gillette.
New England is coming into this match on the heels of a 1-0 victory at home over D.C. United. As for Atlanta, they are coming off a Concacaf Champions League loss to the Philadelphia Union where they lost at home 3-0. New England is catching Atlanta in a very busy stretch of their season with both CCL matches and MLS matches on their schedule. Atlanta in their last MLS match defeated Chicago 3-1.
“We look forward to the game,” said Sporting Director & Head Coach Bruce Arena. “Atlanta is one of the more talented teams in the league, and they’ve looked good at the start of the season. I know they’re coming off a disappointing loss to Philadelphia in Concacaf [Champions League], but I think they’re a very good team, very good attacking team, some quality players, very well organized with their new coaching staff. I think they’ll be a real challenge for us.”
Atlanta United Scouting Report
A lot has changed with Atlanta since New England last played them. In 2019 Atlanta finished second in the Eastern Conference and then in 2020 they finished 12th in the East. But in 2020 Atlanta was without Josef Martinez who is now healthy for 2021. In addition, there is a new coach in Atlanta with Gabriel Heinze. This past off-season the club had 14 players depart and brought in 13 new players. Under Heinze, Atlanta has changed how they approach matches tactically. Atlanta has been a tad more disciplined defensively and will play more for position rather than trying to get behind on every single play.
“Yeah, a lot of turnover, different coaches that they’ve gone through and it has been a while since we’ve played them so we’re looking forward to it and looking forward to playing a different schedule rather than playing the same team six times in a season, that’s no fun for anyone,” said Revolution Goalkeeper Matt Turner on Atlanta. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. I think in year’s past when we’ve played Atlanta, we often would look to push, get the ball in behind, and this Atlanta team is built more around possession and also their counter-press. They have a lot of guys that are out there working hard and have a new signing in [Santiago] Sosa and he’s been really great, has an awesome range of passing. We’re expecting a really fun, technically sound game this weekend and we’re looking to get all three points.”
This still a very talented Atlanta team. Outside of Martinez the Five Stripes have Ezequiel Barco, George Bello, Miles Robinson, and a new addition of Santiago Sosa who came in via a transfer from Club Atletico River Plate. Thru two MLS matches, Atlanta has only conceded one goal while scoring three.
It is tough to assess what lineup Atlanta will put in place for Saturday given the juggling act that they between MLS and CCL action. They could come in with extra motivation to come out and get an early goal or they could save some of their bullets in the hope of trying to win leg 2 action against Philly next week.
What To Watch Out For
New England hasn’t scored a goal since the first half of the Chicago Fire match (not counting an own goal) and needs to start finding the back of the net. Lack of scoring was a constant in 2020 for the Revolution and with a fully healthy and improved roster in 2021 the excuse of it being early season only lasts for so long. Following Atlanta, the Revs will play four consecutive teams that made the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs and despite Atlanta not being a playoff team in 2020 they are one of the most talented teams in MLS.
Important for the Revolution to continue to earn results and the next couple of matches could be very telling as to what this teams trajectory is in 2021.
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