FOXBORO — The New England Revolution extended their home unbeaten streak to a record 11 straight with a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United FC before 17,615 on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium.
The Revolution improved to 11-4-7 overall, 8-0-3 at Gillette and took over second place in the Eastern Conference. The Revolution close out the homestand against D.C. United on Saturday night (7:39) before breaking from MLS for a month to compete in the Leagues Cup tournament.
“Our mission tonight was to get three points and we got it,” said Revolution head coach Bruce Arena. “We are hanging in there and a little thin right now with injuries and other things.
“We have got to get through this game on Saturday and get reorganized. I think we have had a good year to date. Hopefully we can recover and give D.C. United a game on Saturday. They are certainly going to have a bit of an edge being fitter for the game.”
With two games in four days, Arena made several alterations to the Starting XI that dropped a 2-1 decision at the Red Bulls last Saturday. Carles Gil returned from his one-game suspension for yellow card violation.
Midfielder Latif Blessing, who appeared in 15 games with 14 starts, was reportedly traded to FC Toronto prior to the game. He was replaced on the pitch by newly-acquired midfielder Ian Harkes, who was making his Gillette Stadium debut.
Ryan Spaulding was at right back in place of DeJuan Jones, who is competing with the U.S. National Team. Giacomo Vrioni started at striker in place of Bobby Wood.
“He (Harkes) played very well and you could see why we got Ian,” said Arena. “He’s a good, experienced player and very good with his passing.”
Atlanta United had recorded clean sheets in consecutive wins against Philadelphia and Montreal. AUFC’s scoreless streak ended four minutes into the contest on a rocket from outside the penalty area by midfielder Matt Polster.
Brandon Bye made a cross that was headed out by defender Brooks Lennon. Polster charged the clear and kicked it by keeper Brad Guzman for his third of the season.
The decision to start Vrioni paid off in a 2-0 lead in the ninth minute. Gil transitioned the ball out of the Revolution end and fired a long rainbow pass to Vrioni, who had sprinted behind AUFC’s center backs. Vrioni broke in clean, tap danced around Guzman and poked home his fifth of the season.
“He did a really good job and one of his strengths is certainly running behind back lines,” said Arena. “The timing with Carles was very good and it was obviously a great goal.”
Keeper Djordje Petrovic did his part with several outstanding saves in the second half, primarily off the foot of AUFC midfielder Thiago Almada. Petrovic was denied his seventh clean sheet on a goal by Machop Chol in the 93rd minute.
“Djordje kept us in the game in the second half,” said Arena. “He was very good and I can’t even think about how many shots Almada had.”