The New England Revolution haven’t gone more than two games between wins this season.
But snapping a two-game winless streak won’t be easy this time around for the Revs, who host Atlanta United at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night.
Atlanta (8-3-1, 25 points) is less than one year removed from its inaugural season in Major League Soccer, but it has already inflicted long-lasting damage on the Revolution (5-4-3, 18 points). In September, inside a packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, United crushed New England 7-0 in what still remains the worst loss in league history.
United opened the scoring in the second minute and never looked back, going up by four goals before halftime. The Revs had two players sent off and failed to record a single shot all game.
Two weeks later, the two sides played to a 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium, a result that offered little solace to the Revolution, who looked like they were still reeling from the embarrassing loss in Georgia.
The Revolution aren’t the same team they were last season – they have a new coaching staff and a number of new faces that all but guarantee they won’t suffer such a terrible loss again any time soon – but Atlanta will still be a tough challenge to overcome.
Atlanta currently occupies first place in the Eastern Conference standings, ahead of Columbus Crew SC on goal differential. United have scored 26 goals – tied for the most in MLS – and also have the league’s best away record (4-1-0).
With four of their next five games against Eastern Conference opponents, the Revolution have the first of a few “six-pointers” on tap for Wednesday’s clash in Foxborough. But playing Atlanta, which has demonstrated it won’t show mercy in any venue this season, is probably New England’s stiffest test so far in 2018.
Players to Watch
Teal Bunbury is arguably New England’s hottest striker, with six goals through 12 games this season.
The Revolution, who have yet to score a goal on Atlanta, will look to Bunbury to turn the tide and lead the attack.
Bunbury’s been remarkably clinical in the box so far this season. He’s been timing his runs well and finishing chances at a decent clip, boasting the fifth-highest shot conversion rate among players with at least five goals.
A close second to Bunbury, though, is New England’s entire back line. New England has surrendered at least two goals in three of its last four games (conceding 10 altogether, in that stretch) and will be facing arguably the most potent attack in the league.
Josef Martinez, who recorded a hat-trick in Atlanta’s 7-0 rout over the Revs last season, is currently tied with the most goals in MLS (eight) and leads Atlanta’s attack.
Making Martinez the player on Atlanta United to watch is a no-brainer.
Head to Head
Wednesday’s match between New England and Atlanta marks the two teams’ third encounter all-time.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Atlanta defeated the Revolution 7-0 on September 13 last season.
The two sides then settled for a 0-0 at Gillette Stadium on September 30.
New England Revolution: GK – Matt Turner; D – Jalil Anibaba, Claude Dielna, Chris Tierney; M – Brandon Bye, Wilfried Zahibo, Luis Caicedo, Cristian Penilla, Diego Fagundez; F – Teal Bunbury
Atlanta United: GK – Brad Guzan; D – Michael Parkhurst, Gonzalo Pirez, Miles Robinson; M – Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel, Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba; F – Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco
Expected kick-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
Officials: Referee: Silviu Petrescu; Assistant Referees: Richard Gamache, Gianni Facchini; 4th Official: Robert Sibiga; VAR: Alan Kelly
Weather at kick-off: 70 degrees