Atlanta United heads to New England on Saturday to begin a stretch of three road matches in eight days. The 5-Stripes are undefeated in the 2021 MLS season and will look to maintain that mark against the Revolution. After an exciting victory in the home opener against Chicago Fire FC last weekend, let’s take a look at this weekend’s Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Bounce back from adversity
Atlanta United is coming off its first defeat under Gabriel Heinze after falling 3-0 in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals in midweek. Saturday will mark an early test for the 5-Stripes to see how they will overcome adversity and get back on the right track. Historically, Heinze’s teams have always responded well to adversity. During his three seasons at Velez Sarsfield, Heinze put together an 8-1-7 (W-L-T) record following defeats in Argentine Superliga play. Atlanta United has also had good success historically against New England, owning a 5-0-2 record all-time against New England heading into Saturday night’s match.
Keep an eye on the dynamic trio of Bou, Buksa and Gil
Carles Gil is one of the most dynamic midfielders in MLS. He joined the Revolution in 2019 from Deportivo La Coruna and was voted 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year after recording 10 goals and 14 assists. Bou, who joined the Revolution from Liga MX, has scored 15 goals in 34 career MLS regular season matches. He scored three goals in four postseason matches last year. Buksa has tallied seven goals in 25 regular season appearances, including one in the 2021 opener.
Atlanta’s defense had only given up one goal in four matches prior to the CCL loss this past Tuesday. The 5-Stripes will look to get back to the stout defense they displayed in the opening couple of weeks in MLS play.
Converting possession into goals
The 5-Stripes lead MLS in possession heading into the third week of the season at 60.4 percent. Atlanta United has also done a good job of converting that possession into chances, as they rank 10th in MLS with 21 chances created through two matches. The final step for Atlanta to take is to convert those chances into more goals. That’s one of the most difficult things to do in soccer and manager Gabriel Heinze knows from experience that it will take time.
Following the team’s home opening win vs. Chicago last weekend, Heinze told reporters when asked about if the attack still needs time, “I still think that way because it (scoring) is the most difficult part of the game. Today we had good moments. So, I will keep thinking the same.”
The last time Atlanta United played at Gillette Stadium, Ezequiel Barco scored a brace and the 5-Stripes won 2-0. They will look for a similar result this weekend. Catch all the action Saturday night live on The CW69 Atlanta and atlutd.com/live as well as Star 94.1 FM radio as Atlanta United visits New England Revolution with kickoff set for 7pm ET.