Leagues Cup | Round of 32
New England Revolution vs. Atlas FC
Thursday, August 3 | 8 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Watch: FREE on Apple TV
English Talent: Tony Husband (play-by-play), Ross Smith (analyst)
Spanish Talent: Bruno Vain (play-by-play), Andres Agulla (analyst)
Local Radio: 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA (Portuguese)
New England Revolution
2nd in Eastern Conference (12-4-7, 43 pts.)
Last Result | 5-1 win vs. Atlético de San Luis
In what will be the club’s 1,000th competitive game, New England will head into Thursday night’s clash full of confidence: on home soil, and with nine goals scored in their last two games at Gillette Stadium, on the back of a thumping 5-1 win against Atlético de San Luis. A Giacomo Vrioni hat trick, plus a Gustavo Bou strike and Julio Domínguez own goal, clinched all three points last time out to secure progression to the knockout stages, with the Revolution claiming second spot in the East 4 group. Facing East 3 group winners Atlas FC in Foxborough in the Round of 32, the squad will hope to make home advantage count once again, and look to continue their impressive run against Mexican opposition. Unbeaten on their own turf in league play in 2023 (tallying 9-0-3), the Revs also boast an impressive 9-1-1 all-time mark at home against Liga MX teams in all competitions.
7th in Liga MX’s Apertura Tournament (1-1-1, 4 pts.)
Last Result | 1-0 win at Toronto FC
With two wins from two, Atlas FC completed the group stage in first place in East 3, defeating both New York City FC and Toronto FC by a goal to nil. Only three games into their Liga MX Apertura 2023 season, they sit in seventh place domestically with a 1-1-1 record, and have only conceded one goal in competitive action so far this term, registering a shutout in their last 378 minutes of play. Kicking off the campaign with a 2-0 win over Cruz Azul, they then fell to a 1-0 reverse at Monterrey and earned a 0-0 draw against Santos Laguna, before Leagues Cup action began. In both of their group stage triumphs, they have broken the deadlock early on – Jordy Caicedo’s second-minute effort clinching the win last time out against Toronto, after Aldo Rocha had volleyed home the match-winner inside seven minutes against NYCFC.
The two sides have met only once before, locking horns in the 2009 North American SuperLiga, as New England sought to defend their title. A solitary Kenny Mansally effort separated the sides on that occasion, as the reigning champions advanced to the semifinals. The Revolution will look to extend an impressive record against Liga MX teams with a victory on Thursday. Recording a 7-1-1 tally in SuperLiga action, a triumph in the Concacaf Champions Cup, and last week’s Leagues Cup success against Atlético de San Luis, the Revs head into this encounter with a fine 9-2-1 streak against Mexican sides in official competition.
Overall Record vs. Liga MX: 9-2-1
Home Record vs. Liga MX: 9-1-1
Revolution forward Giacomo Vrioni
Fresh from bagging a hat trick against Atlético de San Luis in the Revs’ final group game, the forward heads into this fixture riding the wave of a fine scoring streak. With three excellent finishes, he inspired the Revs to a superb 5-1 triumph against Los Atléticos at Gillette Stadium, bagging his sixth, seventh and eighth goals of the season, bouncing back from a penalty miss in the shootout at New York Red Bulls in emphatic fashion. Tallying five goals in his last six games, the 24-year-old is finding his form – combining well with the Revolution’s impressive array of attacking talent – and is ready to put an injury-hampered opening to his New England career behind him, eager to show what he can do. Having netted three goals from three shots against San Luis, Vrioni will hope to produce another influential display. In knockout action and coming up against a side who have conceded just once in competitive play so far in 2023, clinical finishing could prove the difference.
Atlas FC midfielder Aldo Rocha
Los Zorros’ captain has played a pivotal role in his side’s Leagues Cup campaign so far, notching a game-winning goal and assist in their two matches. With a clever late run into the box for a corner, he raced onto Luis Reyes’ delivery and unleashed a terrific volley into the near post to break the deadlock against New York, setting Atlas off and running in the tournament. He then followed that match-winning effort by teeing up Jordy Caicedo in Toronto, latching onto a loose pass in midfield and playing a neat first-time ball into the forward, who curled beautifully into the far corner. Also on the scoresheet in their opening day Liga MX fixture against Cruz Azul, Rocha has three goal involvements in his last five games, and is nearing his 100th appearance for the club. Starring for Atlas as they lifted the 2021 Apertura and 2022 Clausura trophies, he was dubbed Liga MX’s Best Defensive Midfielder for the 2021/22 campaign and was also named in the league’s 2022 All-Star roster.
New England Revolution
Nacho Gil is pushing for more minutes, having made his season debut from the bench against Atlético de San Luis, while Tommy McNamara could also be in contention, after featuring for New England Revolution II on Sunday, building fitness following his lengthy layoff. In other news, Thursday’s game will likely arrive too soon for new recruit Tomás Chancalay’s involvement, though the 24-year-old Argentine has arrived Stateside and visited the Revolution Training Center for the first time on Wednesday. On the injury front, Christian Makoun has been sidelined for the last eight games, and Dylan Borrero (ACL), Henry Kessler (hamstring) and Maciel (Achilles) remain unavailable.
The past year has seen plenty of change at Atlas. After claiming consecutive Liga MX titles in 2021 and 2022 (and their first championship since 1951), Los Zorros were unable to make it a three-peat, failing to qualify for the 2022 Apertura playoffs. Following the resulting departure of head coach Diego Cocca, Benjamin Mora was installed at the helm and guided his side to an improved Clausura campaign, reaching the quarterfinals. Over the past few months, several players have departed the club, including star striker Julián Quiñones, winger Ozziel Herrera, and forward Julio Furch, while five new faces have been brought in – Sunday’s match-winner Jordy Caicedo among the new recruits. Though Atlas entered the tournament with no injury concerns, midfielders Jeremy Márquez and Brian Lozano were ruled out of the trip to Toronto with muscle discomfort.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution assistant coach Richie Williams on the mentality of the squad:
“The team is prepared, we’re ready to go. We want to keep moving off the momentum we had from our last match where we played very well. It’s another Mexican team. Atlas is a good team – very respectable, they won the championship two seasons ago; they have good players, a good coach, good organization. As always, there are no easy games, but we feel we're prepared, the players are ready to go, and we're going to go out and have a competitive match. Our goal is to advance and move on to the next round.”
On the confidence of the team after a 5-1 win against Atlético de San Luis:
“The team has been great, super positive. They had a really good week of training, very happy with their last performance against San Luis, and they want to carry that momentum into our next match. They're in good spirits, and they're ready to go out and compete, play well, hopefully continue to score goals, play well defensively, and get a positive result.”
On Atlas FC and breaking down their solid defensive line:
“What we’ve observed in the last two games is that they are a very good defensive team and what they also do – what they did well in the last two games – is that they scored early on their opponents, and then it was very difficult to break them down. Obviously, we don't want to go into the game giving up an early goal, especially with a defensive team – they have all 11 players committed to defending on the team.
“They're technically sound, also, so we want to make sure we go out and we disrupt them in the best way we can. They've been champions recently, they have good players, so we need to go out there and play well. We have confidence in our top group led by Carles [Gil], Giacomo [Vrioni] has been doing really well, Bobby [Wood] also, and Gustavo [Bou] – the guys who have been setting up goals and scoring goals. We've actually had some good goals from our central midfielders in Ian Harkes and Matt Polster recently, so it doesn't just come from them. They're a very talented group, and we want to go out and hopefully have the same kind of result as we did in our last game.”
New England Revolution captain Carles Gil on the feeling within the squad:
“We are focused on the game. We are players, we like to be on the pitch, playing, training like we have been – we have trained very good this week, and we want to show that.”
On working with assistant coach Richie Williams:
“Richie is obviously very good. He has been here with Bruce [Arena] for five years so everyone knows Richie, he knows everyone. It is not an easy situation for him because everything was very quick, but he's doing a very good job. We are with him, he is with us. We are happy and we will try to put the work this week on the pitch.”
New England Revolution midfielder Tommy McNamara on returning to action with Revs II this past Sunday:
“I feel really good. I felt like I needed to go and get some minutes under my belt to physically see where I'm at, and physically, I felt very good. I could have played longer than the 60 minutes for my first time out, but we just wanted to be like safe and sure. I felt really good, I’m training well, so we'll see what happens.”
On facing Atlas FC and the preparation under Richie Williams:
“It's interesting to play teams from a different league. Atlas did well in their group stage games, so we're expecting it to be a difficult game. It'll be interesting to see how we match up against them and what it looks like. We're getting ready to play a game. We have to go play and compete, and we're trying to win, and trying to move along in this tournament.
“Richie wants to prepare the players as best as possible to make sure that you understand everything going into the game, and also make sure that tactically we understand positionally where we want to be – offensively, defensively. We did a little bit more work on that today, a little bit more preparation. I really like Richie as a coach – I think him and the rest of the staff since I've been here have done a really good job.”
On the Leagues Cup:
“I've liked it, I think it's added something different – it's brought a new excitement to the summer of MLS. I've watched a lot of games outside our team, and I feel like they've been very entertaining, and there's been a draw to them that's a little bit different than the normal summertime of MLS. I think so far, it's been entertaining and exciting.”
New England Revolution defender Dave Romney on the team’s approach to Leagues Cup:
“It feels good. There’s a lot to play for. Everyone loves these kinds of tournament games. It’s kind of prep for playoffs with these kinds of games. Everyone’s really committed. It’s a disadvantage if you go out early because then you have like three weeks before your next MLS game. You want to keep playing games, just to move in the tournament and win. It’s always fun winning. You don’t want a huge break of games and then come back kind of rusty for that first MLS game. We’re in a very tight MLS race with a lot of teams. All these [remaining MLS] games are important, so we can’t afford to drop points. To be honest, there’s good prize money if you win. Everyone’s trying to win.”