MLS franchises looking to make a late dash for the playoffs will clash on Saturday (1.30pm ET), as the New England Revolution welcome Atlanta United to Gillette Stadium. Can the hosts end their alarming losing run? Or will the visitors extend their unbeaten run? This preview, with its predictions and betting picks, aims to find out.
The Revolution had turned a corner back at the start of September and it looked as though they could make a play for the coveted top seven. They have since taken multiple steps in the wrong direction. After that encouraging home win against the Red Bulls, Bruce Arena’s men have gone three without a win, losing those games on the bounce. Not only did they lose at home to CF Montreal last time out, but they did so without registering on the scoresheet and they’ve now scored only two goals in three games. Worrying times for the team that made light work of featuring in the playoffs last term.
For Atlanta United, it is also a case of making up for lost time, as they scramble to get in the playoffs late in the campaign, though they are making a better fist of it than Saturday’s hosts. The Five Stripes are unbeaten in three, two of which they’ve won. As a result, they’ve pushed themselves up to ninth in the Eastern Conference and are now just two points outside of the all-important top seven. Given both their recent form and the form of the hosts, Gonzalo Pineda will surely be confident of taking another step towards where they need to be.
Still not giving much away at home
The Revs have delivered a below par performance on an all too frequent basis this term, especially offensively, and let’s be honest, they’ve made no shortage of silly mistakes. However, they are still capable of keeping teams at bay at home. In fact, at Gillette Stadium, they don’t give much away. For starters, only two of the last six teams to visit the Foxborough venue have scored.
Bruce Arena’s men come into this game having conceded just three goals in their last four home fixtures. That’s reasonably impressive stuff. On occasion, they have been fortunate, but it’s fair to say that teams find it tough to score when they visit New England. Only three Eastern Conference teams have conceded fewer home goals than the Revs, who concede a more than respectable average of 0.93 goals per home game.
Offensively, they haven’t been great, but then again, they do score slightly more than they concede, with an average home goal difference of +0.31.
Away form could be costly
If the Five Stripes don’t get into the playoffs, they’ll probably be cursing their away form, which overall, hasn’t been anywhere near good enough this term. Only one team in the Eastern Conference has claimed fewer road points than Pineda’s men, who’ve picked up just 11 from a possible 48.
At both ends of the pitch, the boys in black and red have struggled. Scoring the third lowest total on the road in the east, notching a relatively measly average of just a goal per road game. At the other end, they’ve conceded an average of 1.75. Whichever way we look at it, in general, their defensive weaknesses have outweighed their offensive strengths. If we look at expected goals, they have an average xG difference of -0.40. Not appalling by any stretch, though it’s not New England’s home xG difference of +0.12, which though modest, is far better.
No win in three for Five Stripes
It is Saturday’s visitors who come into this fixture in better form, but they don’t exactly have the most encouraging recent record against the Revs, who are unbeaten in their last three against Atlanta, two of which they’ve won. When the teams met earlier in the campaign, back in May, they drew 2-2 in Atlanta. When they last met at this venue, back in May 2021, it was the New England Revolution that won by two goals to one.
Interestingly, games between this pair at Gillette Stadium tend to be on the low-scoring side. Never has there been more than three goals in a New England renewal of this fixture, while three of the four games between the teams at this venue have contained two or fewer goals.
Take a chance on the hosts
The New England Revolution have struggled to get the desired results of late, and yes, the visitors have momentum, yet the home win still appeals. After all, the terrible away form of the Five Stripes cannot be ignored. They did beat Orlando in their most recent away game, but that victory came after back-to-back losses, while that was their first win on the road since April.
There’s a clear difference in defensive stability, and that could be key. The Revs don’t concede much at home, while the Five Stripes concede plenty on their travels: two or more in four of their last five traveling fixtures, as well as in eight of their last ten. In contrast, Saturday’s hosts have conceded two or more in just two of their last ten at home. They have kept four clean sheets during that time.
Add into the mix that it is the Revs who come out favorably when we run the numbers in terms of both xG and goals for and the home win starts to stand out as the value option with those top-rated online sports betting sites.
Bou to bag
It has not been a standout campaign for Gustavo Bou, who has been hampered by injury at times, and yet he has still notched seven goals in 17 appearances. Without a goal since returning from injury a month ago, the Argentine is not a player to write off, especially now he is back to full fitness after three consecutive 90’s. Against a visiting backline that struggles on the road, the man who averages a whopping 4.23 shots per game is worth betting on.