Atlanta United 2, New England Revolution 1 | 2018 MLS Match Recap
Atlanta United continued their Supporters' Shield-leading pace on Saturday afternoon, with 16-year-old Homegrown player George Bello scoring his first MLS goal en route to a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It looked as though Josef Martinez added to his league-leading tally just 68 seconds in, but his would-be goal was ruled offside. Still, it started a deluge of offense that Revs 'keeper Brad Knighton and the men in front of him contended with throughout the half. Bello's 16th-minute near-post strike, on a Leandro Gonzalez Pirez assist, was the lone goal in a half in which Atlanta dominated in possession and chances. It was also a potentially costly half, as Miguel Almiron went out with an apparent hamstring injury in the 30th minute, visibly distraught as he walked off the field.
Seven minutes into the second half, Julian Gressel doubled the Five Stripes' lead by finishing a deft Hector Villalba assist. Martinez had a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 less than a minute later on a shot Knighton saved, and had several other chances to get on the board; only the Revs' Juan Agudelo would do that in the match's last 40 minutes, pulling one back deep into stoppage time.
- 16' – ATL – George Bello | WATCH
- 52' – ATL – Julian Gressel | WATCH
- 90' + 2' – NE – Juan Agudelo | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The win allowed Atlanta to say "Your move, Red Bulls" in the Supporters' Shield race, and any faltering by RBNY tonight could allow the Five Stripes to effectively clinch home-field advantage when they next see action (on the 21st, against the Fire). But the sight of Almiron leaving the field in tears can't sit well with anyone in the Atlanta camp. For the Revs, meanwhile, the thread their playoff hopes hang from just got a bit more fraught — they now need to win out and hope for epic Impact and D.C. United collapses.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Bello's first goal was one that Atlanta was waiting for — further solidifying the status of their academy — and it also buoyed US men's national team fans who dream of him getting a cap before he turns 17.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though he didn't get on the scoresheet himself, Villalba registered a smart assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal, and troubled New England's back line throughout a first half that exerted maximum effort in keeping Atlanta to just one goal.