Behind an inspired performance from Julian Gressel, Atlanta United stormed past the New England Revolution 3-1 at home on Sunday as part of Decision Day presented by AT&T. 

The match ultimately served as a preview for an Eastern Conference first-round clash in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. The defending MLS Cup champions will be the No. 2 seed and the Revs will be the No. 7 seed in their return to the postseason for the first time since 2015.

Gressel’s star showing began in the 3rd minute, as his low cross set up a one-time finish for Darlington Nagbe to make it 1-0. The Revs equalized in the 8th minute via a Cristian Penilla breakaway, but then the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year found another gear.

Coming out of the halftime interval, Gressel played Josef Martinez in on goal. The Venezuelan striker, back from a knee and ankle injury, made it 2-1 when slotting past Revs’ goalkeeper Matt Turner.

To cap off his masterclass, Gressel smashed home a thunderous strike in the 57th minute. From 16 yards out, he volleyed home a right-footed effort into the bottom corner, capping the 3-1 result.

New England nearly rallied back late, but Juan Fernando Caicedo’s close-range shot rifled off the crossbar and out of play.

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Atlanta United 3, New England Revolution 1 | 2019 MLS Match Recap -

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  • 3' – ATL – Darlington Nagbe | WATCH
  • 8' – NE – Cristian Penilla | WATCH
  • 49' – ATL – Josef Martinez | WATCH
  • 57' – ATL – Julian Gressel | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: From an Atlanta United perspective, it’s hard to imagine a better end to the 2019 regular season. Josef Martinez scored upon his return from injury, they clinched the No. 2 spot in the East and Ezequiel Barco got a long run out. They’ll be looking to not only defend an MLS Cup, but make it three titles this year after already winning the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup. From a Revolution perspective, there’s a lot to digest ahead of the first-round meeting in two week’s time. They’re back in the playoffs, but will need to improve to pull off the upset.

    Michael Parkhurst
    , upon entering as a substitute in the 79th minute, received a standing ovation from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium crowd. It served as a final regular-season appearance for the 35-year-old. Parkhurst, Atlanta’s first MLS captain, has endeared himself at every stop of his long, storied career.


  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Who else would it be? Julian Gressel, the Providence College alum, finished with one goal and two assists, resulting in his most productive regular season with the Five Stripes. The third-year pro carries six goals and 12 assists into the postseason.

  • Next Up

    • Atlanta: Oct. 19 vs. New England, 3 pm ET (Univision, TUDN) | Round One, Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs
    • New England: Oct. 19 at Atlanta, 3 pm ET (Univision, TUDN) | Round One, Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs