The New England Revolution are still not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but a scoreless draw with Atlanta United might not be enough to help their diminishing chances.
Brad Guzan made five saves and was aided by five blocked shots as Atlanta held on for a road point and remained in third place in the Eastern Conference standings. New England gained a point on 6th place New York Red Bulls who lost to Toronto FC as the Reds clinched the Supporter’s Shield.
New England began the match pressing early and often against a dangerous Atlanta side, and they were able to create a few turnovers that led to half chances. That pressure however also lead to a few counter attacks for Atlanta, which were could have been far worse were it not for some great 1-on-1 plays from Delamea in particular.
Big chances were at a premium in this match, but the Revs had several of the best chances of the game on either side of halftime. Diego Fagundez was involved in two of them, finding himself in on Brad Guzan in the first half only to see his chipped effort thwarted by the United States international keeper.
In the second half, Fagundez led a three on one breakaway with Lee Nguyen making a run down the middle and Scott Caldwell ghosting in towards the back post. Unfortunately, Fagundez’s pass was behind Nguyen giving Atlanta time to recover defensively. A late Lee Nguyen free kick nearly fooled Guzan but the keeper was able to put a hand on the ball and tip over the shot despite overplaying the ball when he came off his line.
The match was highlighted by several wonderful defensive plays, led by the positioning of Caldwell and several key blocked shots by Antonio Delamea as well as the five blocks from Atlanta. Several chances for both teams were cut out before they ever became shots, including a late sliding challenge from Michael Parkhurst to deny Juan Agudelo a clean shot on target.
It was an improved performance for New England from their 9-man, 7-0 defeat at Atlanta United earlier in the month. On a different day this would be a fine result against a good team, but with the Revs in desperation mode for the playoffs, a single point at home will likely not be good enough.
New England’s next home game will be October 15th at home to New York City FC after the international break for World Cup Qualifiers.