“We are hurting right now but it’s not a situation in which we need to panic,” centerback Anton Walkes said.
Making the loss potentially more impactful, Jurgen Damm and Ezequiel Barco left early with what appeared to be hamstring issues. Atlanta United will play at Philadelphia in the second leg of the series on Tuesday in Chester, Pa. Manager Gabriel Heinze didn’t have an update on either player after the game because he hadn’t yet had a chance to speak to the medical staff.
Manager Gabriel Heinze made four changes to the starting lineup, possibly in anticipation of Tuesday’s game in the Champions League, compared to the one used in the first leg earlier this week. Saturday’s 11 was goalkeeper Brad Guzan, centerbacks Walkes and Alan Franco, right fullback Brooks Lennon, left fullback Jake Mulraney in his first start at that position this season, midfielders Franco Ibarra, Santiago Sosa, Emerson Hyndman, Damm and Moreno, and striker Erick Torres.
New England took a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Bye beat Ibarra to the back post to head in a cross from Gil, who wasn’t pressured by Damm.
There had been warning signs.
Henry Kessler hit the post with a header a minute earlier after beating Franco to a long free kick. Tajon Buchanan had a header go just wide a few minutes earlier.
Damm sustained an injury to his right leg in the 21st minute tracking back to break up a New England attack. He was subbed off. Damm was reaching around to hold his hamstring as he walked off the field.
Gil just missed increasing Atlanta United’s deficit when he was left open in the penalty box. His shot went wide.
George Bello came on for Damm in the 26th minute. Mulraney moved to right wing.
Atlanta United looked exhausted. As evidence, by the 36th minute, three Atlanta United players, Mulraney, Franco and Sosa, had received yellow cards for late tackles. Offensively, the team had trouble stringing any kind of passes together other than those from centerback to centerback.
Still, Atlanta United tied the game on a penalty kick by Moreno in the 43rd minute. He won the penalty because he was brought down in the box by Bye after beating him in the 41st minute. Goalkeeper Mat Turner guessed correctly that Moreno was going to shoot into the lower left corner but he couldn’t stop the shot. Two of Atlanta United’s six goals this season were scored by penalty kick. It was Moreno’s first goal this season and his third successful penalty kick since joining Atlanta United in the final third of last season.
Heinze made two subs to start the second half. Miles Robinson came on for Franco and Barco for Ibarra. Atlanta United had difficulty winning aerial duals on at least three New England free kicks. Robinson may have come on to try to improve the defense on set pieces.
The changes didn’t positively affect Atlanta United’s play. It still had trouble getting the ball out of its third of the field because of the Revs’ well-executed pressure.
New England took a 2-1 lead on a penalty kick by Gil in the 53rd minute. It was won because Hyndman brought down Buchanan at the top of the box. Referee Chris Penso originally ruled that it was outside the box. But after reviewing the play on a monitor, he changed it to a penalty kick. Referees aren’t supposed to overturn their calls unless the mistake made was clear and obvious. Heinze said he doesn’t talk about decisions made by the referees. He said he hasn’t yet seen the images of the play.
Barco wasted Atlanta United’s first chance in the second half when he chose to dribble instead of one-timing a shot in a three-on-two break in the 59th minute. The chance came because of a Revs’ turnover and not because of good play by Atlanta United.
Josef Martinez and Erik Lopez came on for Torres and Mulraney in the 72nd minute.
Barco left the game in the 80th minute and appeared to be reaching for his left hamstring. Because Heinze had already used five subs the team was left to finish the remaining 10 minutes with 10 players.
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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule
April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0
April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1
May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1
May 9 at Inter Miami, 1 p.m., ABC
May 15 vs. Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
May 23 at Seattle, 4:30 p.m., Fox
May 29 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 20 vs. Philadelphia, 2 p.m., ESPN
June 23 at NYCFC (at Red Bull Arena), TBD, BSSO/BSSE
June 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN
July 21 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FS1
July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC
July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision
Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1
Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, B7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision
Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision
Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., FS1
Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE
Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE