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Late Drama Nearly Costs Revs II Points in 2023 Season Opener
Revs II held a firm grip on the game until the 84th minute. See what transpired in the closing minutes.
New England Revolution II kicked off their fourth season on Sunday night as they traveled to Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia, to take on Atlanta United II.
Revs II entered Sunday’s contest after a busy offseason that saw them make eleven signings, which brought their 2023 roster up to seventeen players. The newcomers and returnees got a chance to build some chemistry before beginning the seven-game preseason slate that saw them go 3-2-2 while putting fifteen balls into the net.
Atlanta United was without two players as Justin Garces (ACL recovery) and Nelson Orji (illness) were unavailable for Sunday’s contest.
Clint Peay rolled out a 4-2-3-1 formation for Sunday’s contest. Nico Campuzano made the trek from DC to Georgia as the 25-year-old goalkeeper made his Revolution II debut as he started in net. 15-year-old Peyton Miller made his professional debut starting on the backline alongside Pierre Cayet, Tiago Suarez, and Victor Souza. Captain Jake Rozhansky and Noble Okello served as defensive midfielders as Marcos Dias, Damian Rivera, and Malcolm Fry played higher. Jordan Adebayo-Smith served as the lone striker.
On the opposite side, former Revolution Homegrown Nick Firmino wore the Captain's armband for Atlanta. Firmino was on the bench for Atlanta’s 6-1 loss to Columbus on Saturday.
Fry wasted no time to get the Revs II offense going as he posted up atop the box and attempted to shake his defender. Fry sent a shot on frame, but Vicente Reyes saved it.
There was some controversy in the 7th minute as it appeared Miller was taken down inside the Atlanta box. Head referee Luis Guardia saw otherwise as he let play continue.
After bagging seven goals in the preseason, Adebayo-Smith came close to finding his first goal with Revs II in the 18th minute. The striker got onto a perfectly weighted through ball and drove down the left flank.
Sensing the danger, Reyes came off his line to meet Adebayo-Smith. The striker was able to maneuver around Reyes and looked prime to score. Adebayo-Smith unleashed a shot on the empty net, but it was a tad too far to the left as the ball bounced off the left goalpost and out before being cleared.
Adebayo-Smith had another close chance in the 33rd minute as he unleashed a shot on Atlanta that was just too high, as it sailed over the crossbar.
Revolution II with some corner kick trickery in the 37th minute found their first goal. Rozhansky sent a long pass to Souza. The defender sent a cheeky backheel flick to Rozhansky, who sent a low-driven cross into the center of the box. Rozhansky’s cross deflected off Aiden McFadden and into the back of the net to give Revs II a 1-0 lead.
Rozhansky entered the referee’s book in the 45th minute after receiving a yellow card for fouling Ajani Fortune.
There was one change for Revs II before the start of the second half as MLS SuperDraft pick Joshua Bolma made his professional debut as he replaced Damian Rivera.
After forcing the own goal in the 37th minute, Rozhansky bagged a goal of his own in the 52nd minute. After having a failed clearance fall right to him, Rozhansky drove across the top of the box and unleashed a rocket of a shot to the top left corner.
Rozhansky came close to finding a second goal in the 59th as his half-volley sailed on frame but ricocheted off the crossbar.
While Cayet is known for his defense, he flashed his offensive capabilities in the 60th minute as he created space inside the box as the corner kick came right at him. Cayet whipped a header on frame and past the keeper to propel Revs II to a 3-0 lead.
A pair of substitutions came in the 61st minute as Colby Quiñones and Weverton came on for Suarez and Adebayo-Smith.
Miller, the youngest player to appear for Revs II, almost became the club's youngest scorer in the 69th minute as he ran onto a perfectly placed ball. One-on-one with the keeper and with a defender trailing, Miller attempted to send the ball to the top right corner of the net. Unfortunately, Reyes stretched his left hand and deflected the ball away from danger.
Ben Awashie made his Revolution II debut in the 71st minute as he came on for Rozhansky. Awashie quickly entered the referee’s book as he received a yellow card in the 73rd minute after fouling Jonathan Villal.
Atlanta came close to finding their first in the 82nd minute as their shot deflected off the post before being cleared out.
The final substitution for Revs II came in the 83rd minute as Nakye Greenidge-Duncan made his Revs II debut as he replaced Fry.
Atlanta caught the Revs II defense lacking in the 84th minute as Erik Cento sent a pass across the face of goal to Raimar, who tapped the ball into the back of the net to shrink Revolution II’s lead to two.
Campuzano came up big in the 89th minute as he saved a close-range header from Nick Firmino but Atlanta United 2 was awarded a penalty kick in the 89th minute after Quiñones committed a foul on Karim Tmimi inside the box.
Firmino was the one to step up to the spot for Atlanta and he sent a shot to the bottom left corner of the net as Campuzano dove in the opposite direction. Two goals in six minutes brought life back to Atlanta as they cut the Revs II lead to one.
Despite some good chances, Campuzano and the Revs II defense stood strong as they secured a 3-2 victory in their season opener.
It wasn’t the ending Peay would have liked, but walking away with three points on the road while extending your opening day unbeaten streak to four games is always a good thing.
Sunday’s win puts Revs II in third place in the Eastern Conference behind Chicago Fire II and Orlando City B.
Revolution II return to action inside Gillette Stadium on Sunday, April 2nd, as they host New York City FC II at 8 PM ET.