FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A potentially pivotal three-game homestand begins on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, where the New England Revolution will host defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC.
New England (1-4-1, 4 pts.) will be looking to get themselves on track against Atlanta (0-2-2, 2 pts.), who’ve gotten off to a slow start in their title defense under new head coach Frank de Boer. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with NBC Sports Boston televising the game and streaming the action on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports Boston mobile app.
Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner, and Naoko Funayama will have the English call, simulcast on both NBCSB and 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. with Revolution Pregame Live, as Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the starting lineups and biggest storylines, streaming live on the Revolution’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels, as well as on revolutionsoccer.net.
Postgame coverage will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
For the first time ever at Gillette Stadium the Revs will be wearing their brand new Colonial kits, inspired by the uniforms the colonial generals wore in the Revolutionary War. You can own “The Colonial” by visiting the Gillette Stadium ProShop, or clicking HERE.
Current Form: Revs hope to use homestand as springboard; Atlanta in search of first win
Once again the Revs came away from last weekend’s trip to Columbus feeling positive about their performance, but lacking any points to show for their efforts as they suffered a 1-0 loss to Crew SC. The result completed an early-season series sweep for Columbus, who also defeated the Revs at Gillette Stadium in early March.
While the Revs were solid defensively for a second straight game – conceding only a set-piece goal that replays showed was marginally offside – they struggled to turn their attacking intent into clear-cut scoring chances, and they head into this weekend’s showdown with Atlanta searching for a more lethal edge.
“I think we have to be a little bit better at everything, but especially getting into the attack and creating chances,” said Scott Caldwell, who played alongside Carles Gil in central midfield for a second straight game. “It’s no secret – we didn’t create enough, really. There were several good chances (in Columbus), but if we’re creating more, then I think the result’s different.”
New England will go searching for that attacking verve at home, where they picked up their first win of the season two weeks ago against Minnesota United FC. Following this weekend’s meeting with Atlanta both the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact will visit Foxborough to complete a vital 12-day span for the Revs, and they’ll be aiming to use this opportunity to build momentum and confidence through mid-April.
Atlanta’s title defense has gotten off to a rough start with two road losses and two home draws through their first four games, leaving the Five Stripes as one of five MLS teams still searching for their first win.
The sale of midfield maestro Miguel Almiron to Newcastle United and the departure of head coach Tata Martino to take the reins of the Mexican National Team have hit hard, but many of the pieces from last year’s title-winning side still remain, including league MVP and record-breaking goal scorer Josef Martinez.
“I don’t think their recent form is indicative to them as a team at all,” said center back Jalil Anibaba. “I think we’re very aware of that. I think the whole league is aware of that. It’s just a matter of taking the game as it comes.
“But home games are paramount, and we feel when we’re at home, we can beat any team. It’s just a matter of actually proving it when we get out there.”
Past Meetings: Revs still searching for first win over Atlanta in fifth all-time meeting
This will be just the fifth meeting between the Revolution and Atlanta United, who entered the league as an expansion side in 2017, and the Revs remain in search of their first win over the Five Stripes.
New England and Atlanta have drawn the previous two meetings in Foxborough – a 0-0 stalemate in 2017 and a 1-1 draw last May – while the Five Stripes have been victorious in both matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
These two sides will meet again on Decision Day in early October, when the Revs will travel to Atlanta to close out the 2019 regular season.
Injury Report: Mancienne suspended, Castillo and Delamea both questionable
New England will no doubt be shorthanded along the backline on Saturday night, although just how shorthanded they’ll be remains to be seen.
Captain and center back Michael Mancienne will be unavailable while serving a one-game suspension following his sending off last weekend in Columbus, while fellow center back Antonio Delamea (knee) and left back Edgar Castillo (calf) are both questionable after missing that trip to Ohio.
With all three off the field for the final 25 minutes last weekend at MAPFRE Stadium, Andrew Farrell shifted into central defense to partner Anibaba, while Luis Caicedo deputized at right back.
Justin Rennicks, meanwhile, will be available for selection after returning from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for the past three games and cut short his time in U.S. Under-20 national team camp.
Final Thoughts: Caldwell says he and Carles Gil “have to play off each other”
“I just have to read off him,” Caldwell said of his central midfield partnership with Carles Gil. “He’s such a talented player. If he wants to get the ball deep, then I’ll move into the attack. If he wants to join the attack, then I’ll give coverage on both sides of the ball. We just have to play off each other.
“He’s done great for us, and we have to continue to keep getting better as a team.”