Soccer

Revolution 0, Atlanta united 0

Revolution play to a draw with Atlanta United

Foxborough MA 7/9/16 New England Revolution goalie Brad Knighton makes a diving save against Columbus Crew SC during first half action at Gillette Stadium on Saturday July 9, 2016. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:
Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
Brad Knighton, shown in a July game, shut out Atlanta United Saturday.

FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution went for broke against Atlanta United, but failed to break through in playing to a 0-0 draw, reducing their already slim playoff chances before a crowd of 21,925 on Saturday night.

The Revolution (11-15-6, 39 points) closed within 4 points of the New York Red Bulls with two games left in the regular season. But the Red Bulls (who lost, 4-2, to Toronto FC) have three games remaining and can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Vancouver next Saturday.

The result extended the Revolution’s seven-game (6-0-1) home unbeaten streak, improving their home record to 11-2-3, tying a team record with 36 points, set in 2005.

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But this was likely a must-win match, especially since the Revolution will be idle until meeting New York City FC on Oct. 15. The Revolution did gain some defensive satisfaction, just more than two weeks after being routed, 7-0, by Atlanta United (15-8-8, 53 points), a first-year team.

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The Revolution also fell decisively, 6-1, to Orlando City SC on Wednesday, losing players to red cards after Video Assistant Referee replays in both games.

“It’s tough, it’s bittersweet,” Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton said. “We were very good defensively. It’s been a long week, especially bouncing off Wednesday. It was a great performance from the guys, we just couldn’t break through, offensively.

“We’ve got to win these two games and, hopefully, the chips fall in line for us. For us, it’s something to build on. It’s obviously easier when you keep 11 guys on the field. Things have gone against us recently but we’ve stuck together as a group and that’s a huge thing moving forward for us. As long as we stick together, we’ll continue to stay as a group and push these next two games, and see what happens.”

The Revolution’s high pressing style threw off Atlanta’s technical game, but also left the Revolution exposed on counterattacks. Atlanta, playing with Josef Martinez as a single striker, created first half chances on counterattacks, Hector Villalba heading wide (14th minute) and Martinez (18th) and Anton Walkes (35th) having breakaways stopped.

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Diego Fagundez had the Revolution’s best first-half chance, his point-blank shot stopped by Brad Guzan in the 23rd minute.

In the second half, the Revolution pushed forward. They squandered a 3-on-1 breakout (57th) as Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, and Scott Caldwell failed to connect.

Revolution interim coach Tom Soehn added Hungarian forward Krisztian Nemeth, switching to a 3-5-2 alignment in the late going. The Revolution threatened on a Nguyen free kick tipped off the crossbar by Guzan (87th). Nguyen had another free kick grabbed by Guzan, just before referee David Gantar’s final whistle.

Soehn went with four forwards in the final minutes, but did not bring in Kouassi, who won an appeal on his red card and was on the Revolution bench.

“I kept a couple defenders behind me in case we did get the goal, and then we go back to four in the back,” Soehn said. “We were going to do everything we could to win the game, so we took a defender out and put the extra attacker in.”

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The road losses to Atlanta United and Orlando City illustrate the Revolution’s inconsistencies, as they have compiled a team record 0-13-3 road record.

“The guys executed really well,” said Soehn, who replaced Jay Heaps six days after the loss in Atlanta. “We put them under a lot of pressure and won a lot of balls in their half. The disappointing thing is, on any given day you take that result because of the work you put into it. But this time of the year we can’t afford that result, so on that side everyone’s really disappointed.

“Our backs were dedicated to defending. You could see everyone was locked in. Our guys left everything out there and that’s all I can ask for as a coach.”

Knighton replaced Cody Cropper in net as the Revolution continued its home shutout proficiency. This was the Revolution’s fifth shutout in the last six home games, and they have allowed only one goal in the last 551 minutes at home.

“I thought game plan was perfect, you know?” Nguyen said. “We went out there and had the better part first half [but] couldn’t find back of the net. Second half, we created chances but couldn’t get them to fall. We had good possession for the majority of the game and really held their front three, they didn’t really have much going forward.

“They’re solid, made it tough to try to penetrate through the middle. Juan [Agudelo] had chances from Teal [Bunbury], Kei [Kamara] headed on a free kick, we hit the crossbar.

“This one hurts and last one, too, could’ve put us in a good spot. Unfortunately, [we were] hard done by that call. Two games could’ve put us in good position. Now, hopefully, results fall our way. Not getting 3 here makes our chances a little slimmer.”