After struggling to close out opponents at Gillette Stadium during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Revolution began this season’s home slate with a gritty 1-0 win over D.C. United last Saturday.
They will look to continue the home-field momentum Saturday night when they welcome a talented Atlanta United FC squad to Foxborough.
“We look forward to the game,” said Revolution 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 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.”
The Revolution (1-0-1) went 2-3-5 at home in 2020, often failing to put away opponents down the stretch.
Although last Saturday’s only tally came on an own goal by D.C. United, the Revolution were thrilled to earn their first win of the season. The defensive match featured a combined 39 fouls, seven yellow cards, and just three total shots on target as the Revolution extended their streak to 169 minutes without allowing a goal.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner expects a different type of match against Atlanta, a club that excels in passing and possession and is coming off a disappointing 3-0 loss to Philadelphia in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals Tuesday night.
Under first-year coach Gabriel Heinze, Atlanta (1-0-1) is led by dynamic 21-year old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno, and forward Josef Martinez, who scored the most goals in MLS history (77) in a three-year span from 2017-19, but missed all of the 2020 season with a torn ACL.
“We’re expecting the strongest Atlanta United and we’re expecting them to want to come out and score goals,” said Turner. “Philadelphia soaked in a lot of pressure and were able to get their goals.
“Credit to Philly for that game, but I know Atlanta has a lot of players that are probably pretty disappointed with how that went on a pretty big stage, so they’ll be looking to right the ship this weekend and come out flying.”
Midfielder Arnór Traustason and defender Christian Mafla made their MLS debuts for the Revolution against D.C. United. Traustason played 81 minutes, recording three fouls and a yellow card, while Mafla provided 54 solid minutes at left back.
Mafla was impressed with how fast and vertical the MLS game is, and said he already is building continuity with Traustason on the left side.
“It was cool and I enjoyed it a lot,” Mafla said through a translator. “Being able to get a win in my first game in New England was special.
“I think Arnór moves very well. We’ve been able to understand one another well. I think when we interacted during Saturday’s game, we interacted well.”
The Revolution are 0-4-2 in six regular-season matchups against Atlanta, with the last meeting coming in Round 1 of the 2019 playoffs, a 1-0 win by Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“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,” said Turner. “That’s no fun for anyone. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”