FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Teal Bunbury was the 11th-hour hero for the New England Revolution Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium. His 88th-minute penalty kick salvaged a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United in front of an announced crowd of 10,547.
New England (5-4-4, 19 points) struggled to generate attacking chances against Atlanta (8-3-2, 26 points) and were second fiddle for most of the night, though referee Silviu Petrescu extended the hosts a lifeline when he awarded them a penalty kick for Kevin Kratz’s foul on Krisztián Németh at the edge of the box.
Bunbury made the most of his chance, converting his only shot of the game with a blast into the upper right corner of the net and past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
“Score,” Bunbury said after the game when asked what he was thinking before taking the crucial spot kick. “I can sit here and give you a line, but just put the ball in the back of the net. You don’t really think about anything else…There’s a lot of guys that could have taken it, but I wanted to step up and put it in the back of the net.”
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner played an instrumental role in securing a point for the hosts as well. He made six saves, five off breakaways, to keep his team above water.
“All year long, he’s been unbelievable,” Bunbury said of Turner’s performance. “He’s man of the match, he’s maybe having saves, plural, of the year, keeping us in games nonstop.”
Atlanta managed to sneak one past Turner in the 24th minute, but was stoned by the third-year keeper the rest of the way.
Josef Martinez scored his ninth goal of the season to put the visitors ahead, finishing easily from the center of the box after controlling a slow, rolling pass from the right flank by Julian Gressel. New England’s entire back line froze on the play, leaving Martínez enough time to collect possession and deposit easily past Turner.
May 30, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martínez (7) walks off the field during the first half against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
“It was a soft goal, we can say it,” said Revolution coach Brad Friedel. “On the first goal that Atlanta scored, Matt’s such a good goalkeeper, probably could have stood tall and handled that one as well. Just the life of a goalkeeper.”
New England did little to back up Turner’s efforts on offense. The Revs started the game with a 4-3-3 formation and used Chris Tierney as a left back, pushing Diego Fagúndez wide. Tierney went down with a knee injury shortly before halftime and Gabriel Somi served as his replacement.
Fagúndez was ineffective on the flanks despite getting two shots. He moved centrally to more of a playmaker role in the 62nd minute when Németh came on for Wilfried Zahibo.
As the Revolution pushed into the attack in search of an equalizer in the second half, they left big gaps for Atlanta to exploit.
“Through 60 minutes we did a good job limiting anything they did,” Turner said. “You kind of know when you’re in those scenarios that you’re going have to take couple more risks going forward. That’s kind of when you need to make sure you’re switched on and able to make a difference in the game.”
In the 57th minute, Atlanta midfielder Miguel Almirón stampeded down the field and broke free of Revolution central defenders Antonio Delamea and Jalil Anibaba. Almirón fired at the near post, but Turner stood his ground and parried away the drive.
Ezequiel Barco forced consecutive saves out of Turner in the 52, 58, and 82 minutes, the latter of which came off the crossbar after deflecting off Turner.
After Bunbury equalized, Turner made one more save from point-blank range, on Kratz, to preserve the draw.
“I try to bet on myself every time. Those [breakaway situations], I feel pretty comfortable in. I’ve done pretty well in them so far this season,” Turner added. “After I made the first save, it kind of set the tone and I grew into the game, and I felt like I wasn’t going to get beat for the rest of the second half.”
The Revolution remain in playoff position thanks to Wednesday’s result, and are now 1-6-5 in midweek games since 2015. New England hosts the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, the same day Atlanta plays the Philadelphia Union at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.