Every time Atlanta United has stumbled this year with a loss, they’ve picked themselves back up with a result in the following match. They showed that resilience once again by overpowering a physical New England Revolution side with a commanding win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
With Chris McCann suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation, 16-year-old Atlanta United Academy product George Bello returned to the starting lineup for the second time in his career, the only change from last week’s roster. The full XI: Brad Guzan (GK), George Bello (DEF), Leandro González Pirez (DEF), Michael Parkhurst (DEF), Julian Gressel (DEF), Jeff Larentowicz (MID), Eric Remedi (MID), Darlington Nagbe (MID), Miguel Almirón (FW), Tito Villalba (FW), Josef Martinez (FW).
Atlanta United came out hot out of the gates, with several chances in the opening moments. Josef Martinez had the ball in the back of the net in just the second minute, but it was flagged for an offside in the buildup. However in the sixteenth minute, Atlanta United made their pressure count, and it was a memorable one. Leandro González Pirez sent a beautiful through ball to split the defense and set Bello down free behind the back line. The Douglasville native took it on himself, volleying the bouncing ball past the Revs keeper and into the net, becoming the sixth-youngest goalscorer in MLS history at 16 years and 257 days.
The celebration was deflated less than fifteen minutes later, with Miguel Almirón forced off the field due to injury in the 30th minute –– stay tuned to atlutd.com for the latest on his injury. But the Five Stripes came together in his absence, holding the Revs at arm's length for a solid 1-0 lead heading into half.
The second half started much like the first, with Atlanta United blitzing past the Revolution’s physical defensive play with pressure from the first minute. It showed just seven minutes in, with Tito Villalba and Julian Gressel combining beautifully outside the box off of a long free kick from Brad Guzan. Gressel steadied himself after the clever through ball and fired a low shot past the Revs goalkeeper and inside the far post.
Josef Martinez was one of several players who nearly made it 3-0, but the red, black and gold remained inches away from finishing off a third. And they held strong with a clean sheet up until the 93rd minute, when the Revolution scored a late consolation goal. But the three points were secured just minutes later, with 45,122 fans erupting after the final whistle.
The victory guarantees Atlanta United will spend another week on top of the Supporters’ Shield standings with 66 points, just three points off the all-time record for points in a season. The team now gets a week off for the international break before the final two weeks of the regular season, starting with a home match against the Chicago Fire on October 21st. Tickets to that match are still available, so make sure you reserve your tickets here.