Atlanta United traveled to Foxborough, Mass. for the final road trip of the regular season campaign to face Eastern Conference opponent New England Revolution. In what was a must-win game for Atlanta United’s playoff hopes, Josef Martínez came on as a sub to score a stunning bicycle kick, but the visitors conceded twice and fell 2-1 at Gillette Stadium.
The result eliminates Atlanta United from qualification for the 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
First half – Ronaldo Cisneros starts for Atlanta United, New England Revolution convert a penalty kick
Before the September international window, Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda found some consistency in the starting lineup. Prior to Saturday, he’d gone with the same starting XI for three consecutive matches. Saturday’s starters were the same but with one change – Ronaldo Cisneros got the start up top in place of Dom Dwyer.
The first shot came in the fifth minute from Atlanta United. The attackers set up a good combination on a counterattack. Midfielder Thiago Almada got the ball right back on a give-and-go inside the box, but his one-touch shot sailed high.
New England Revolution had a dangerous opportunity in the 12th minute. The Revs created a takeaway in the middle third. New England midfielder Carlos Gil carried the ball down the field in an all-out sprint then took a shot on goal. The low-driven ball hit the goal post on the far side and Atlanta United was eventually able to clear it away.
New England looked like a team with urgency for a significant stretch in the first half, moving the ball faster and creating more dangerous chances. Defender Brandon Bye got a head on a Gil corner kick and redirected it toward goal. Atlanta United ‘s goalkeeper Raúl Gudiño was on his toes and ready, and his quick reaction to block the shot kept New England off the board.
In the 31st minute, New England was awarded a penalty kick for a foul called inside the box on Gudiño. Atlanta's goalkeeper came off his line to collect a high-bouncing ball, but he ran into striker Giacomo Vrioni in a clumsy collision. Vrioni stepped up to the mark to take the PK and drilled a low left-footed shot into the right corner to score his first career MLS goal and put the Revs ahead 1-0.
Atlanta United finished the first half with nine shots, but only one of those shots challenged Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic and was on frame. On a nicely executed set piece, midfielder Amar Sejdić set up Luiz Araújo for a chance inside the box, but Araújo’s shot sailed high. Similarly, later in the half fullback Andrew Gutman’s cross inside the box found an open Brooks Lennon on the far post, but Lennon was unable to control the ball and his header went high.
Second half – Josef Martínez enters the match, scores stunning bicycle kick
In the 55th minute, Atlanta United made a group of substitutions. Matheus Rossetto, Josef Martínez and Edwin Mosquera entered the match. Sejdić, Cisneros and Ronald Hernández were subbed off.
Almada found Martínez for a good look in the 70th minute. Almada dumped the ball off to Martínez toward the top of the box. The striker made a swift turn and had a crack at goal, but the shot went wide. Minutes later on the other end of the pitch, midfielder Gustavo Bou had a shot on goal for the Revolution. Gudiño came up with another big save to keep Atlanta United within striking distance.
Later, Pineda made some more substitutions for Atlanta United. Marcelino Moreno and Caleb Wiley subbed on in the 76th minute. They replaced Santiago Sosa and Araújo.
Then, Atlanta United found the equalizer. Moreno kicked the ball out wide to Lennon making a run down the right flank. Lennon placed an impeccable cross inside the box. Then, Martínez did what Martínez does – score a golazo. The striker launched himself into the air, lined up a bicycle kick and delivered a remarkable goal to even the match 1-1 in the 81st minute.
But the equal score didn’t last long. In the 85th minute, New England scored the go-ahead goal. Bou received a pass from Gil at close range inside the box. The forward took a patient, controlled touch and delivered a shot into the far side of the net to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Revolution. Atlanta United pressed to answer once again, but fell short of securing any result in its last road match of the season.
Up next – Atlanta United returns home for the season finale
Atlanta United returns home for the regular season finale next weekend on October 9. Atlanta hosts defending MLS Cup champions New York City FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Decision Day.
It’s the club’s annual Pride match, so secure your seat today and watch the 5-Stripes for the final home match of 2022.