FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s been more than a year since the New England Revolution’s only previous visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but for those who were on the field that night last September, the memories are still fresh.
A pair of first-half red cards – both issued after Video Review – reduced the Revs to nine men and they struggled to cope against then-expansion-side Atlanta United FC, conceding four goals before the halftime break en route to a 7-0 loss, marking the largest margin of defeat in club history.
“Obviously we remember it,” said Andrew Farrell, one of eight current Revolution players who featured in that match. “It’s hard not to remember getting your butt kicked that bad.”
But that doesn’t mean that the Revs will be in search of redemption when they return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a nationally-televised meeting with the Five Stripes on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET).
Rather than revenge the Revs have their focus tuned into the here and now with just four games left in the regular season and their playoff lives on the line.
“I think we’re going in there thinking about what we need to do,” said Farrell. “What we need to take care of is three points, and obviously no matter who’s on the field, we’ll step up and do that.”
The sting of last year’s visit to Atlanta has also been lessened by a pair of additional meetings since then, both in Foxborough, and both draws. Most recently the Revs and Five Stripes split the points on May 30 of this year, as Teal Bunbury bagged an 88th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw.
It’s that performance that will drive the Revs into Saturday afternoon’s visit, and they’re confident that’s a much better representation of their standing with the league leaders.
“I don’t think it was fair to say that we were outdone that game (the 7-0 loss) just because it was two red cards,” said Kelyn Rowe, who added that the final scoreline was “a bit of a fluke” last year. “I think the game here was a little more (representative).”
Regardless of the circumstances, Saturday’s meeting sets up as a critical game for both sides, as the Revs need three points to stay in the playoff hunt, while Atlanta maintain a slim one-point lead over the New York Red Bulls atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.
“They’re coming in knowing they’re on top of the league. We’re coming in knowing that we have to win,” said Rowe. “I’m very excited for the game because it could be a very, very good one. Hopefully it has us taking the full three (points) and getting out of there.”