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Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution: Three Questions With The Bent Musket

Is this the day Atlanta gets its first win?

MLS: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if it seems like it’s been a while since Atlanta United have played a match, it’s because it has been. Two weeks after the heavens opened on MAPFRE Stadium during a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, the Five Stripes are in Foxboro to take on a Revolution team two points ahead of them in the standings. To be fair, while it’s been a rough start for New England, at least it has a win to its credit.

Jake Catanese from our sister site, The Bent Musket, was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some Revs questions I had for him.

Outside of a win against Minnesota, things haven’t really gone as planned for the Revs as they’ve scored just 5 goals in 6 games. As a fan of the team, what’s its biggest flaw right now?

MLS: Minnesota United FC at New England Revolution Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Asking me to narrow it down to just one flaw is kind of hard, but to summarize the numerous problems the Revs have I think comes from their tactics. The Revs want to be a team that has their fullbacks press high and create chances from the counter. However, the Revs aren’t always great in possession so the high fullbacks often leave the rest of the backline exposed for easy goals. Now, to be fair to the defense as a whole, the Revs have been fairly solid defensively in the run of play which is an improvement.

Now for the other half of the ball, the Revs simply are generating great chances in the final third. On top of that, any half chances generated by the strikers are not even hitting the target, leaving the Revs midfield and backline to pick up the scoring. Carles Gil has been a solid addition and has been involved directly in four of the Revs goals so far this year, netting three and assisting on one.

Through six games, Revs strikers have put zero shots on target, and though Teal Bunbury and Cristian Penilla have registered shots, they’re technically wingers. New England struggles to get their lone striker up front involved and it shows in the Revs attacking numbers - 18 shots on target in total out of 71 shots and 1/2 on PK’s so far is not a stat line to be proud of. I’m not sure how to fix these issues but personnel wise, the Revs should be faring far better than they are now but still I can’t put them any higher than a borderline playoff team.

This kicks off a three-match homestand for New England, with the other two against the Red Bulls and Montreal. How important are these next few matches and how will it set a larger tone for how the season will go?

With the Revs already in a fairly deep hole in the standings, anything less than 6 or 7 points from this stretch could make it too much to climb out of the rest of the year. Anything is possible though, we’ve seen several teams make significant summer signings and vault up the standings but New England is not exactly a team that inspires confidence enough right now. Even with a rumored summer DP, any losses at home this month might not be the final nail but it would be a nail in the proverbial coffin.

Carles Gil was brought in during the offseason to bolster the attack. What extra dimension does he add to this side that may not have existed a season ago?

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

Carles Gil is good at soccer and is literally everywhere on the field. I swear half the time I see him it’s actually covering the rightback spot in his own third of the field which is awesome but also not ideal for what you want your CAM to be doing.

Last year with Diego Fagundez and company in the final third last year the Revs were really, really bad and possession based attacks, but really great and countering and taking on defenses with speed. Right now the Revs are more balanced but also in unfamiliar territory. They’re used to attacking in fifth gear a lot and now they have the capability to slow the game down but struggle with how exactly to do that.

Against Minnesota the Revs made back post runs at goal, had good combination play and solid overall defense and turned the match into a 2-1 win in which they only goal they gave up was a PK. In the games the Revs lose, those back post runs aren’t there and any chances the Revs have generated lack numbers in the box to capitalize on them.