FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Lombardi Trophy that the New England Patriots won in Super Bowl LIII was trotted out Saturday night at Gillette Stadium before the New England Revolution kicked off against Atlanta United.
Maybe Revolution staff thought it would bring some extra luck against Atlanta’s other football team when Patriots players Sony Michel and Deatrich Wise Jr. showboated the NFL trophy around the stadium.
But two goals from Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco – one of which will go down as one of the week’s best golazos around the world – eliminated all prospects of the Revolution borrowing the Patriots’ karma, and Atlanta United cruised to a 2-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 15,016.
Barco opened the scoring in the 29th minute, just 14 minutes after taking the field as a substitute for an injured Eric Remedi. Barco tapped a shot past Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper after receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Hector Villalba, who danced past Andrew Farrell down the left end line before playing the ball into the heart of the box.
That aforementioned golazo came in the 48th minute. The play started as Atlanta defender Michael Parkhurst, a Rhode Island native and former Revolution player, advanced down the right wing and played Villalba in the box.
Villalba sent the ball wide, toward the left corner of the area, where Barco arrived to take possession. Barco then looked up, put the ball on his right foot, and hit a picture-perfect bending shot into the upper corner of the net.
Bend it like Barco. pic.twitter.com/MMlY9A8K9W
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 14, 2019
“When the ball was traveling, we weren’t good enough to get into that space,” Revolution captain Scott Caldwell said. “When they did play it through the middle, they found gaps we weren’t able to close quick enough.”
Any hope of New England earning a positive result against the defending MLS champions was small at best, even with Atlanta (1-2-2, 5 points) entering the weekend winless in league play.
The Revolution were shorthanded as starting central defenders Antonio Delamea (knee) and Michael Mancienne (suspension), as well as left back Edgar Castillo (calf) didn’t dress. With a flimsy back line that featured three of four defenders playing out of position, the Revolution struggled to contain Atlanta’s press and creativity.
“Having key guys out, I think the guys that stepped in did a good job,” Farrell said. “[Atlanta] has so many key players, it’s hard to play against them, but I like the matchup, it’s just unfortunate that one play sets the team on a low and then it’s hard to fight back.”
“My mistake on the first goal kind of doomed the team,” Farrell added. “Getting that goal away probably gave them a little boost and kind of opened the game up.”
Farrell made two goal-line clearances within the first 15 minutes and was called on to make a series of make-or-break tackles with striker Josef Martinez practically going in alone against Cropper.
Apr 13, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Brek Shea (20) and New England Revolution forward DeJuan Jones (24) eye a loose ball during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Farrell’s first clearance off the line came in the seventh minute as Martinez went in alone off a through ball by Darlington Nagbe. Eight minutes later, Villalba sent Julian Gressel in alone, only to have a bid from a tight angle blocked by Farrell again.
Martinez then whiffed on an inch-perfect cross from Villalba in the 20th minute, though he managed to get by Farrell and get free.
“They have a really good offense,” Farrell said. “The season they’ve had hasn’t gone according to the talent they have. We’re disappointed in the result.”
New England (1-5-1, 4 points) pleaded for things to go its way twice, but referee Alex Chilowicz didn’t bite. In the 12th minute, Cristian Penilla went down at the edge of the box because of slight pressure from Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.
Chilowicz didn’t call a foul, and replay indicated it wouldn’t have been a penalty based on the spot of the contact.
DeJuan Jones was also called offside in the 38th minute as he slotted a shot past Atlanta’s Brad Guzan off a Juan Fernando Caicedo pass.
“If the goal stood, it’s different…we need that break when we get our chances, and we didn’t get it tonight,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said.
Saturday night’s result puts New England in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
The Revolution’s all-time record against Atlanta is 0-3-2.
“We’re all going to be pissed after a game like tonight,” Caldwell said. “There’s no hiding that. We felt like we’re a better team than we showed on the field. We’re frustrated with that, but we’re all in this together, we believe in each other, so there’s nothing going on there.”