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Bruce Arena on Maciel: “I thought he had an outstanding game”

Maciel made his MLS regular season debut and he didn’t disappoint against Atlanta United.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was a great night for New England Revolution fans but it was also a special night for a certain player on the pitch. Maciel made his debut with the first team.

After a successful season with Revs II, Maciel has sort of come out of nowhere and gained favor from Bruce Arena and his teammates. When asked by Elizabeth Pehota on “Coffee with the Coach,” Arena stated that the midfielder was the player that surprised him the most prior to New England’s matchup against Atlanta.

Revolution fans saw the Botafogo academy product play with the first team in the preseason and he did quite well. Maciel was calm on the ball and didn’t look out of place playing against MLS players.

The 21-year-old did more of the same against Atlanta United on Saturday. Maciel played the entire 90 minutes and completed all 33 of his passes. Especially for a rookie, that is rather impressive.

After the game, Arena only had good things to say about the Brazilian’s performance.

“He played very well,” Arena said. “I thought he had an outstanding game. Good partnership with [Matt] Polster, for sure. His ball distribution was excellent and he defended quite well out of the position. So, we were very pleased with his performance.”

The midfielder also seems to be impressing his teammates. Carles Gil was asked about Maciel’s performance after the game.

“I think he’s been good,” Gil said. “He’s a different type of player. He’s different with the ball – he’s very smart. I understand him well. I like playing with him, and I think he’s going to help us. There’s a lot of competition in our team in the midfield. Wilfrid [Kaptoum] played well last week, Tommy [McNamara] and Scott [Caldwell] are good. In this case, Maciel, he’s been very special. He’s been spectacular to start the season.”

As first pointed out by Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe, Maciel became the first Brazil-born starter for New England since 2012. With how well he played against Atlanta, it wouldn’t be surprising if he starts once again when New England heads to Nashville this weekend.