New England Revolution

3 takeaways from the Revolution’s 3-3 thriller against Atlanta United

New England was fortunate to escape with a point thanks to its captain.

Carles Gil Revolution goal
Carles Gil celebrates after scoring against Atlanta in the Revolution's 3-3 draw. Via MLS/New England Revolution

The Revolution managed a 3-3 draw away at Atlanta United on Wednesday night, securing what could prove to be an important point in difficult circumstances.

Midfield playmaker Carles Gil scored the second fastest goal in club history to give New England quick lead, and forward Bobby Wood doubled the visitors’ lead in the 37th minute.

Yet Atlanta’s sustained pressure (totaling 72 percent of possession) eventually tilted against the Revolution. United notched goals in the 56th, 74th, and 87th minute to reverse the scoreline.

But just as it appeared New England would end up with a loss after squandering a multi-goal lead, Gil once again worked some magic and scored a stoppage time equalizer to pull out a draw. It was a fitting scoreline for Atlanta, who lead MLS in both goals scored (32) and conceded (28).


Here are a few takeaways:

Carles Gil’s excellence covered for a underwhelming team performance.

Though Gil has made a name for himself (and won a past MLS MVP) more for his passing and chance creation, the 30-year-old has produced an uptick in goal-scoring so far in 2023.

He pounced on Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s poor pass in the opening seconds on Wednesday and easily converted it for a crucial opening goal.

In stoppage time, Gil boosted his team again when he found enough space to score the tying goal against the run of play. It was a heartening moment for New England after surrendering the lead.

It now means that Gil has scored five times this season, only two behind his total across the entirety of 2022 (and one more than he scored in all of his MVP campaign in 2021).

But as impressive as his tally has been — especially on Wednesday in particular — it’s indicative of a potentially unsustainable trend. The Revolution will have to produce goals from other parts of the team, and defend more solidly over 90 minutes, if they hope to stay in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

New England rode its luck playing a low block.

In the middle of a busy stretch of games, Bruce Arena deployed an unusual lineup in a familiar formation. Andrew Farrell moved from center-back out to the right (with Brandon Bye still hurt), and veteran Omar Gonzalez slotted in at Farrell’s usual spot in a 4-2-3-1.


For a variety of reasons — Gonzalez’s lack of pace, Farrell playing out of position, and the general quality of Atlanta’s team — New England opted to play a low block for most of the night.

Sitting deeper meant that the Revolution ceded an overwhelming majority of possession (72 percent) to the opposition, an abnormal approach for Arena’s teams during his time in New England.

Its effectiveness was debatable. Had it not been for Gil’s heroics, New England would’ve been on the losing end. The strategy also relied on the routine excellence of goalkeeper Djordje Petrović, who made several impressive saves:

Still, for all of United’s possession and passing, the first two goals resulted partly from deflections that were simply bad luck for the Revolution, and the third was an moment of individual brilliance from Atlanta substitute Miguel Berry.

The result may justify the means from Arena’s point of view, but the tactic of sitting deep and attempting to play on the counter might not be a regularly viable strategy for a team that appears more comfortable in possession.

The winless run continues even with a positive result.

After starting the season on a positive note (leading the Eastern Conference for several weeks earlier in the spring), New England has now gone almost a month since last earning a win on May 6 in Toronto.


The Revolution are winless in the team’s last five games (including the disappointing 1-0 home loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the U.S. Open Cup).

Back-to-back 3-3 draws might be thrilling for neutral fans, but have been frustrating for Arena given some of the defensive miscues. Granted, Wednesday’s effort felt like an uphill slog in a difficult road environment on short rest, but squandering a 2-0 second half lead evoked shades of the habitual late collapses that doomed New England’s 2022 season.

The next test will come quickly: A Saturday matchup with New York City FC on the smaller field at Yankee Stadium. New York has struggled recently even more than New England, and hasn’t recorded a win since April 22. Both teams will be aiming to finally get back on track.

One piece of potentially good news: The Revolution could see the return of forward Gustavo Bou after a prolonged injury absence (he made the bench on Wednesday but didn’t feature in the game), and could use his attacking quality to give Gil a little more help.


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