Atlanta United faced off against New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night for their second matchup of the season. Forward Machop Chol scored his second goal of the year, but two first half goals proved to be enough to earn New England the 2-1 win at home where they remain undefeated.
Chol, who entered the match in the 69th minute, prevented Atlanta from being shutout in stoppage time. Derrick Etienne Jr. chipped a pass inside the congested box for Chol, who won the ball from a defender at the top of the 6-yard box. Chol spun around and blasted a shot past goalkeeper Đorđe Petrović into the back of the net to cut the lead in half in the 93rd minute.
"I was waiting for the cross, and it fell a little short," Chol said. "The defender decided to take a touch, and he didn’t see me coming from behind, and I took the ball and put the shot on target, and it went in."
Almost like the match in May, New England jumped out to another early lead in the 4th minute. Defender Brandon Bye sent in a cross that Atlanta cleared out but only as far as Matt Polster right outside the box. He struck it low, one time into the goal for the 1-0 lead.
The Revs extended their lead five minutes later after Carlos Gil won the ball in New England's defensive third. He made a move past Santiago Sosa then split two defenders with a pass to Giacomo Vrioni making a run down the middle. Going 1v1 with Brad Guzan, Vrioni took a touch around the keeper and scored into an open net.
"Credit to New England, they deserved the win," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. "They did a great job, especially in their tactics in the beginning they were working. We couldn’t figure it out on the long switches, and the numerical advantages they created on the flanks. They did well and capitalized that into two goals."
Thiago Almada and Brooks Lennon have had an excellent connection the past few matches and almost produced another goal in the 26th minute. Lennon made a long run down the field into the box and got on the end of a cross from Almada. The fullback attempted to volley the pass into the net, but Petrović was there to make the save.
The final minutes of the first half had many opportunities on both sides of the ball. Almada took a shot from outside the box that was an easy save for Petrović, then a minute later, the Argentine midfielder had another attempt from the same spot that went just over the goal. On the other end, Vrioni made another long run into the box, but Guzan's extended foot prevented the striker from earning a brace.
Atlanta forced Petrović to make a career-high 10 saves, including some big ones in the second half. Almada took another shot just two minutes into the half, but the diving keeper pushed it wide. A header from defender Juanjo Purata was inches from crossing the goal line later in the half, but Petrović's quick reflexes kept the ball out of the net.
"In the second half, I thought we came out well and started creating chances on the front foot," Pineda said. "We didn’t allow many chances for them. We shot a lot on goal, a lot of shots from outside and inside the box. I thought we deserved a goal a little earlier, which could have been better for us to chase the game, but we couldn’t score the good chances we had."
Derrick Etienne Jr., who made his first appearance since returning from the Gold Cup with Haiti, came on for Tyler Wolff at the half. Etienne Jr. nearly got Atlanta on the board in the 65th minute, but his shot went just wide of the far post. Edwin Mosquera also made his first appearance since returning from loan at Defensa y Justicia, and he had another second-half shot saved by Petrović.
"I think the subs were very good," Pineda said. "I think they gave a spark to the team with energy. Mosquera was good on the flank, I think we didn’t isolate him in the 1v1 enough as I hoped. Chol did very well, even besides his goal, he was good at holding the ball and finding pockets. It was first time that we used Ozzie for an extended period of time, almost 30 minutes, and he showed very well. Matheus Rossetto and Derrick Etienne Jr. did very well coming in at halftime. I think it was a good performance by those players who came in."
Shots on target
Up next - Atlanta United returns home to host Orlando City before the All-Star Game
Atlanta will face Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, July 15 for another Eastern Conference matchup. Earlier this season, Atlanta rescued a point on the road against Orlando with a late goal from Tyler Wolff.