Carles Gil's penalty early in the second half stood as the match-winner as the New England Revolution went top of the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over Atlanta United Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
HIGHLIGHTS: New England Revolution vs. Atlanta United FC | May 01, 2021
Gil's penalty was needed after Atlanta equalized a first-half opener from Brandon Bye with a penalty of their own converted by Marcelino Moreno. With the victory, New England remain unbeaten through their first three games of 2021 and move onto seven points.
Atlanta looked as if they would find the scoreboard first in the seventh minute as Moreno found himself in an advanced position but ultimately fired it wide of the net. It would stand as Atlanta's only serious scoring opportunity for much of the first half as, following their midweek Concacaf Champions League defeat to Philadelphia Union, they turned in a sloppy, flat performance for much of the opening 45 minutes.
New England later responded with an attempt of their own right before the 15-minute mark as Adam Buksa's cross from the left found Tajon Buchanan right in front of Brad Guzan, but the header missed its target. They'd see an even better chance from Gil's free kick as Henry Kessler's own attempt hit the woodwork.
In the 19th minute, though, Bye ultimately did deliver on an Atlanta defensive breakdown to put the Revs ahead. Gil nearly made it 2-0 in the 25th minute on an awful giveaway by Moreno but mis-hit it as New England looked set on outpacing an Atlanta side playing for the third time in a week.
But Atlanta received a lifeline in the 41st minute as Bye took down Moreno in the box to award the visitors a penalty. The Argentine then fired the kick from the spot to the left of an outstretched Matt Turner to level the match just before the break.
The second half began with a little controversy as Emerson Hyndman's foul of Buchanan in the 50th minute was initially given as a free kick at the edge of the box but later upgraded to a penalty after going to Video Review. Gil's stutter-step faked Guzan out and left the Atlanta keeper flat-footed as the Spaniard made it 2-1 from the spot.
That ended up being more than enough for the Revs as Atlanta saw a few positive spells of possession in the second half but ultimately came up with nothing that seriously challenged Turner. They would be forced to play the final 10-plus minutes down a man as Ezequiel Barco— who entered at the beginning of the second half—came off injured with the team out of substitutions.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Gabriel Heinze decided to rotate his squad with it playing its third match in a week, opting not to start key players like Barco, Josef Martinez and Miles Robinson. They responded with a rather flat first half as the Revs were clearly the better side on this night, pouncing on Atlanta mistakes and looking like a team that very well could have gone into the break with multiple goals. Of immediate concern for the Five Stripes is the health of Barco, who appeared to suffer a leg injury in the latter stages of the match.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: With Atlanta having leveled the match from the 12-yard mark just prior to halftime, they hoped to at least leave Foxborough with a point despite a poor overall outing and with the return leg of their CCL quarterfinal against Philadelphia looming on Tuesday. But a second look at a Hyndman foul at the edge of the scoring area from Video Review official Sorin Stoica awarded the Revs a penalty of their own, one that Gil took perfectly to put his side up for good.
VIDEO REVIEW: Penalty Given to New England Revolution - 52nd minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Gil was active all night, and could have added to his scoreline well beyond his match-winning penalty early in the second.
- NE: Saturday, May 8 at Nashville SC | 1:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- ATL: Tuesday, May 4 at Philadelphia Union, Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal Leg 2 | 8 pm ET (FS1, TUDN)