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Tools to the Match: How ATL UTD can get their first win in New England

Atlanta United (0-2-2) are hungry to get back on the pitch after a stop-and-start opening stretch of the season, and they finally get that chance again on Saturday as they travel to New England to take on the Revolution (1-4-1).  A win could give the Five Stripes the bump they need to kick-start their season, while the Revs are looking for a win of their own to inch their way up the Eastern Conference standings.

Ahead of the match, we broke down the Tools to the Match, presented by The Home Depot:

Guarding Gil

The New England Revolution has scored five goals through six matches so far this year, and four of them were either scored or assisted by Carles Gil. The 26-year-old veteran of the Premier League and La Liga signed for the Revolution on a DP contract this season, and has delivered in his short time in the league so far. A creative midfielder who is quick on the dribble, he’s a player who can put any defense in this league off balance –– and he has the final product to either set up a teammate or score the goal on his own. So much of the Revs attack goes through him already despite his short tenure in the league so far. Limiting his touches and time on the ball will be the first thing the Atlanta United defense will have to focus on to keep a vital road clean sheet.

Get Behind the Line

Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer has emphasized that in order to create better scoring opportunities, the team has to be more daring with their runs to get behind their opponents’ back lines. It’s a concept that is important for any attacking scheme, but especially against a team like the New England Revolution. While Josef Martinez often feasts on whipped balls delivered into the box, the Revs have powerful defenders who are hoping this turns into an aerial battle as that feeds into their skillset. Getting behind the back line can unsettle them and pull them out of position, opening up better chances at goal. But it starts well before the final ball –– finding that incisive run and killer pass to turn the defense back toward their own goal will open up the space for the Five Stripes to create high-percentage scoring opportunities.

Lock up Set Pieces

Atlanta United struggled early in the season to stay organized and defend set pieces, proving particularly tough in their first match in Costa Rica this year. They have tightened up in the matches since, but they come up against a physical side that thrives on those set piece situations. In players like Andrew Farrell and Jalil Anibaba, they have powerful aerial threats that can come forward from the back line, and they have the skill from Carles Gil to deliver the service they need to convert. Limiting the Revolution’s chances to set up plays from dead ball situations will be key –– and being up for the physical challenge when those situations do arise will be crucial for Atlanta United this weekend.

Follow Along:

The match is set to kick off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. You can watch the match on FOX Sports Southeast, stream it on FOX Sports GO or listen in on 92.9 The Game or in Spanish at La Mejor Atlanta. For more details on how to follow along from home, click here.

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