Atlanta United vs. New England: Three questions

September 13, 2017 Atlanta:
September 13, 2017 Atlanta:

Credit: MIguel Martinez

Credit: MIguel Martinez

Atlanta United will take on New England at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Five Stripes (8-3-1) are coming off a 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls in a game marred by quizzical officiating. They are tied with Columbus as the teams with the most points (25) in the East, but have the most points per game (2.08) in the race for the Supporter’s Shield.

The Revs (5-4-3) are in sixth place in the East. They are coming off a 3-3 draw at Vancouver.

Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy), who covers the Revs for the Boston Herald, answered three questions ahead of Wednesday's game:

Q. What is the key matchup in Wednesday’s game and how do you think it will go?

A. Everything rests on how New England manages the triumvirate of Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez. Look for the Revs to attempt to cut service from the wide areas and temper the ability for Atlanta to push forward quickly on the break. This is a collective task for New England, particularly with Brad Friedel's penchant for squad rotation. They'll have to defend more reliably than they did in the second half of the 3-3 draw in Vancouver on Saturday in order to procure a result.

Q. Why is Gillette Stadium such a tough place for opponents?

A. It is an awkward venue for opponents because it presents unusual challenges. Most teams focus on the turf -- and it is different than the grass preferred in most stadiums -- but there are other peculiarities, too. The partially opened end under the lighthouse creates some unique conditions, while the atmosphere falls well short of other venues in the league. Throw in the home side's penchant for exploiting those foibles and it is a place few teams relish visiting.

Q. How would you describe Brad Friedel's tactical acumen, both in preparing for games and in games?

A. Friedel has displayed flexibility beyond his status as a first-year head coach. The common tenets stay the same -- this group wants to press high up the field and unsettle the opposition -- even as the shape changes. After playing with four at the back, the Revs have deployed wingbacks in recent matches against Columbus and Vancouver to cope with specific issues presented by the opposition. Friedel also tailors his team selection to the opposition. Expect him to study Atlanta United carefully and try to counter how they want to play.

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