MLS Regular Season | Match #33
New England Revolution vs. Atlanta United FC
Saturday, October 1 | 1:30 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Watch: UniMas/TUDN (Spanish), Twitter (English)
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2 (English), 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese)
New England Revolution
11th in Eastern Conference (9-12-11, 38 pts.)
Last Result | 1-0 loss vs. CF Montréal
Three straight losses have left the Revs in a precarious position heading into the season’s final two games, four points back of the playoff line and needing a pair of wins and help from others to secure a fourth consecutive postseason berth. All the Revs can do, of course, is take care of their own business, beginning on Saturday afternoon against Atlanta and finishing with a Decision Day trip to visit Chicago Fire FC.
Saturday’s home finale will close out the Revolution’s 17-game slate at Gillette Stadium – where they’ve gone 6-4-6 this year – as they’ll aim to give the Foxborough faithful something to cheer about one last time in 2022.
Atlanta United FC
9th in Eastern Conference (10-12-10, 40 pts.)
Last Result | 0-0 draw vs. Philadelphia Union
Atlanta have gone 2-0-1 in their last three games to keep their playoff hopes flickering, as the Five Stripes stand two points back of the postseason places but chasing several teams that hold a game in hand. Gonzalo Pineda’s side very likely needs to win the final two games and get help to have any hope of reaching the playoffs, so the visitors will be desperate for three points on Saturday afternoon.
In order to claim those three points, Atlanta will need to improve upon their 2-9-5 record away from home, tied with Toronto FC for the fewest road wins in the Eastern Conference. They have been better on their travels recently, however, taking points from four of their last six road trips (1-2-3).
Revolution forward Giacomo Vrioni
Giacomo Vrioni has seen increased playing time in each of the last three games since returning from injury, upping his minutes from 10, to 13, to 26 in the Revolution’s last match against CF Montréal on September 17. The 23-year-old forward remains in search of his first goal or assist in MLS, but he continues to regain his fitness and sharpness after being sidelined for more than a month.
The man that Vrioni is meant to replace on the Revs’ frontline, Adam Buksa, scored both goals when New England and Atlanta played to a 2-2 draw on May 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Revs would benefit greatly should Vrioni provide a similar spark on Saturday.
Atlanta midfielder Thiago Almada
Argentine DP Thiago Almada has driven Atlanta’s attack in 2022, registering six goals and a team-leading 11 assists in his first season in MLS. Almada has been particularly sharp in recent weeks, bagging two goals and one assist during Atlanta’s current three-game unbeaten run to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The 21-year-old recently made his full debut for Argentina in a 3-0 win over Honduras, playing 36 minutes off the bench on September 23. Almada earned widespread praise for his performance, including from Lionel Messi, who said the Atlanta playmaker “is very mischievous” and “not afraid of anything.”
DP forward Giacomo Vrioni has now made three straight substitute appearances since returning from a seven-game injury absence, while Dylan Borrero also returned with a brief appearance off the bench in the Revs’ most recent game after missing 11 games through injury.
“In all honesty, I think those two players are players that we’re going to look at real hard next year,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “We’ll get them into preseason, have them part of the team, and hopefully it’s going to make us a better team.”
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, meanwhile, remains sidelined and has yet to appear in a match since arriving from Los Angeles FC via trade in early August. He’s joined on the unavailable list by rookie goalkeeper Jacob Jackson (recovering from ACL surgery), while left back DeJuan Jones is listed as questionable after missing the Revs’ 1-0 loss to CF Montréal with an upper leg injury.
“He had an injury that we were not aware of and obviously it has set him back for the year,” Arena said of Tajouri-Shradi. “Where this remains in the future is to be determined. We don’t know right now where everything stands as we move forward, but I will tell you from the time he’s been here, he’s a wonderful guy and we hope he can recover from this injury, because I think he would be a great addition to our team.”
The Five Stripes were dealt several long-term injury blows this season, with midfielder Ozzie Alonso (torn ACL), goalkeeper Brad Guzan (Achilles), defender Miles Robinson (Achilles), and goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira (Achilles) all lost for the year by mid-May. That quartet is joined on the injury report by midfielder Emerson Hyndman, who has been sidelined by a quad injury since early July.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena
“We’re trying to win on Saturday. We’re not yet eliminated mathematically, so we have to put everything we have into this game and try to get three points and hope that there’s still slim hope of being able to make the playoffs as we go to Chicago. That simple. The only thing we can do is control ourselves and we haven’t done a good job of that over the last, I’d say, six games. We have to get on the field Saturday and try to get three points.”
New England Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara
“I believe we’ve given everything in all the games we’ve played. I don’t think we ever quit or threw in the towel at any point. For sure, we haven’t played well enough to win games or at other times we threw games away that we shouldn’t have. But in terms of just like effort, willingness, and desire to win games, I think it’s been there as a group. It’s just quality has been lacking at times, decision-making at times, things of that nature. But I can’t, in my opinion I can’t question anybody’s desire to win games.”