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New England Revolution 2 - Atlanta United 1: 3 Thoughts
A slightly rotated squad secured three points
The New England Revolution returned home and maintained their unbeaten home record as they defeated Atlanta United in a mid-week matchup on Wednesday. The Revolution also kept its unbeaten streak against Atlanta which is now at six games.
Bruce Arena trotted out a heavily rotated squad after a matchup against New York Red Bulls last Saturday and another match in three days. Giacomo Vrioni and Gustavo Bou were the strikers up top with Carles Gil, Ian Harkes, Justin Rennicks, and Matt Polster making up the midfield. The back line only featured one change with Ryan Spaulding replacing Ben Sweat at left back.
In terms of absences, Latif Blessing missed the matchday squad due to his red card but The Blazing Musket’s own Seth Macomber also reported that Blessing had been traded to Toronto FC. The Athletic’s Tom Bogert reported that Mark Anthony-Kaye would be coming to New England as a part of the trade. Noel Buck was also once again missing from the matchday squad.
But what do you need to know about Wednesday’s match? Here are three thoughts.
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1 - Strong start
New England has struggled when it comes to starting games on time, The Revolution were prone to giving up early goals and forcing themselves to play from behind.
The Revs put those worries to rest against Atlanta as they scored four minutes into the match with Matt Polster scoring four minutes into the match. It was a cannon of the strike for his second goal of the season.
New England would end the half with a two-goal lead and was completely dominating the match. Scoring two goals within the first 10 minutes of the match is no easy feat. This was the complete opposite output of the side that played against the New York Red Bulls.
Having Gil back definitely plays a factor but it was a real team effort on Wednesday evening. If it was just Gil, they wouldn’t have dominated in the fashion that they did. It was arguably the best performance of the season for New England.
2 - DP’s dominate
Revolution fans were gifted a treat of sorts against Atlanta. All three Designated Players were in the starting XI for the first time this season.
Gil and Vrioni would combine for the second goal of the match. Some beautiful footwork from the All-Star along with a great ball to the striker saw Vrioni score his fifth goal of the season (one more than Bou). The 24-year-old striker lept into the air in elation as he celebrated with his teammates.
Gil and Vrioni have seemed to have built some chemistry. Gil was constantly able to link up with the striker and see him through towards goal.
If there is anyone you want to be on the same wavelength with, it is Gil. The midfield controls the game for New England and is able to make pinpoint passes.
Bou might not have found the back of the net but he also put in a solid performance. He performed well alongside Vrioni which will be crucial going into the dog days of the MLS season. La Pantera ended the night with 47 touches while completing 22 of his 30 pass attempts, and created three chances.
While it might be harsh to Bobby Wood — who is tied for the club lead in goals (7) — Revolution fans will be happy to see the DP’s get a run of starts. With how they played against Atlanta, they deserve to stay in the starting XI.
3 - Blocker save by Bye
Defense might not be flashy but it ensures that you can win games. The plays that Brandon Bye made on Wednesday night likely won’t lead the highlight reel of the match but they were important plays.
Once again early in the first half, Bye was able to block a shot to stall an Atlanta attack. Overall, he was constantly in the right place at the right time and able to get the ball off of his opponent’s feet. Bye recorded a handful of recoveries and an interception on Wednesday evening.
Defending hasn’t exactly been the right back’s strong suit, so it is great to see him playing so well in his own third. The 27-year-old can get caught ball-watching at times but his defensive efforts have been on point in recent matches.
Now New England will look ahead to Saturday as they look to enter the All-Star break on a high note with a win over D.C. United.