Five reasons the New England Revolution can beat Atlanta United FC in first round

Five reasons the New England Revolution can beat Atlanta United FC in first round

The Revolution face a tall task in the first round of MLS Cup Playoffs when they visit Atlanta United FC on Oct. 19.  On paper, it sounds like a daunting matchup for the Revs.  Yes, they are facing defending MLS Cup Champions.  Yes, they are playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 70,000 fans.  Yes, they have never beaten Atlanta. They have an all-time 0-4-2 record, including 0-3-0 mark at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Yes, the Revs are underdogs.  But throw that all out the window.   Here are five factors why the Revolution can win.

New playoff format

MLS has moved away from the two-legged affairs and has adopted the single-elimination format.  This format helps the underdog.  The better team usually won in the old format.  Anything can happen in one single match.  It's harder to pull off an upset over the course of two matches.  I am curious to see how things play out this postseason.  I think you will see more upsets in the MLS Cup Playoffs.  

Road Scholars

The Revs' road form is much improved under Bruce Arena with a 3-2-5 record.  Their 2 losses with Bruce on the touchline need some context.  I'm protesting the 2-1 defeat at New York City FC on Sept. 7.  The Revs had to play unfairly down a man for 80-plus minutes.  Toni Delamea got sent off for a challenge that was initially ruled a yellow card but VAR changed it to a red.  Four days later, the league's disciplinary board rescinded the red card completely.   Now, what would have happened if the Revs got to play the rest of the match with 11 players?  Nobody knows but the Revs were leading most of the match before surrendering two goals late in the game.  The match-winning goal came in the last moments of stoppage time.  The loss deserves an asterisk.  

The other road loss was in the regular-season finale against Atlanta.  Neither team had much at stake by the time this one kicked off.  The Eastern Conference playoff field was set.  All that was left to decide was the seeds and matchups.  I don't think either team went all-out in playing this match.  I don't put much stock into the 3-1 loss to Atlanta on the final day of the regular season.  

As for the Revs' road wins and ties, it should give the players confidence going into the postseason.   Here are the teams they've earned points against this season:

LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, FC Cincinnati, DC Untied, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers.  Five of them are playoff teams. Three of them play in challenging environments for the opposition.  Earning points on the road against LA, Seattle, and Portland is nothing to overlook.  The Revs beat Zlatan and company in Bruce's first match as head coach.  The club earned hard-fought draws against the Sounders and Timbers. I say the Revs have earned their road stripes.  They are a much better team on the road with Bruce running the ship than under previous head coaches.  The Bruce bump is a real thing.    

So we meet again

As mentioned above, the Atlanta-New England first-round playoff game is a rematch of the regular-season finale.  This absolutely benefits New England in so many ways.  The Revs got the Mercedez-Benz experience out of the way.  It's a challenging place to play for an opposing team.  The fans make it a hostile environment for the opposition.  It can be an overwhelming experience for a player.  But after you do it once, it changes the next time around.  The fans don't sound as loud.  The atmosphere isn't as rocking.  Everything becomes more familiar the second time you do it.  You get a better feel for the artificial turf.  You get the learning curve out of the way.  The Revs will be more comfortable the next time they step inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I also think it's hard to beat a good team two games in a row.  Atlanta won last time out.  It'll be harder for them to get two wins in a row.  The Revs will be more comfortable this time.  The intangibles come into play and that should benefit the Revs.

Three Stars

Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, and Matt Turner have been pivotal in the team's success this season.  Where does that trio rank in MLS?  If you take the three best players from every team and hold a draft of which group to take first, I think the Gil-Bou-Turner trio is at or near the top of everyone's list.  Maybe the Revs' roster top to bottom isn't as talented as some around the league.  But those three stars have been among the best at their respective positions this season.  Where they play on the field might be just as important as their production on it.  When you have a versatile striker up top, a dynamic playmaker in midfield, and a match-winning goalkeeper in net, it really helps cover up mistakes on the field or shortcomings on the roster.  If I were to pick the three most important positions to build around, it would be where Bou, Gil and Turner play on the field.  Give me great performances from those three in the same match and I don't like my chances.  I love them.

Arena Football

Bruce Arena is known to have a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to tactics. Atlanta head coach Frank de Boer said as much after Sunday's match.  "I've heard that Bruce Arena is a coach that suddenly can make changes and we have to be ready for that and prepared for that, and we have two weeks to do that," said de Boer.  Arena has only gone with the same lineup in back-to-back games once this season.  The duplicate starting XI only happened after the Revs clinched a playoff spot and were playing Atlanta in the regular-season finale with little at stake.  So, was he testing out his possible playoff lineup?  Did we see a blueprint for what Arena would do in the next match? Was he just punting on the last game of the season and wanted his players to get some work in before the playoffs start in two weeks?  Nobody knows. And that is the point.  Watch out.  Bruce keeps you on your toes.

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How former Revs midfielder Clyde Simms moved on after kidney disease

How former Revs midfielder Clyde Simms moved on after kidney disease

By the time Clyde Simms was forced to retire from the New England Revolution at age 31, his kidney function was down to about 20 percent.

The reason? Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, also known as FSGS. He was diagnosed with the disease while he was in high school but still managed to have a nine-season career in the MLS — the last two years coming with the Revs.

Simms eventually had to go on dialysis, and after a first kidney transplant failed, he underwent a successful kidney transplant in December 2014. Simms dealt with severe complications along the way, but his lifetime of soccer training paid off in a huge and unexpected way.

"I was in the hospital for an allergic reaction, and unfortunately what I was having a reaction to, they were still pumping into my body so I was getting worse and worse and they just could not figure it out. No one knew," Simms told NBC Sports Boston. "My temperature got up almost to 108 [degrees] and everyone was rushing around the room, throwing ice on me.

"Once it came back down, the doctor came in to talk to me. He said, 'The only reason why you survived — or survived without brain damage — is because you were so fit.' It basically saved my life, and so my passion for fitness grew even more."

What did Simms do with that renewed passion for fitness? He decided to help other people get fit, by co-founding Rev'd Indoor Cycling.

After starting the company in 2004, Rev'd operates in three locations, with three more under construction.

And while Simms says cycling is easier on the body and joints than other exercises like running and cutting, it also provides other benefits, like building a community with other participants.

"There's nothing like going into something with a team, with all like-minded people. You seem them working as hard as you're working, putting in as much effort as you're putting in. I no longer miss that part of it. I obviously miss my old teammates and keep in touch with them, but the fact that I have a good team here helps me to not miss it so much."

For more about on Simms's story, check out the video above or click here. And for more on mental health in sports, check out more Headstrong content on or on

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Revolution re-sign young defender DeJuan Jones to new deal

Revolution re-sign young defender DeJuan Jones to new deal

The New England Revolution continue to make transactions during a busy off-season. 

The Revs announced Friday they have re-signed 22-year-old defender DeJuan Jones, who will be entering his second MLS season. Jones appeared in 20 games, including 14 starts during his rookie year, notching a goal and an assist while holding down the fort on the back end.

He was drafted 11th overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft out of Michigan State University, where he tallied 16 goals and 14 assists over 75 appearances for the Spartans. 

The Jones deal comes after Bruce Arena's squad added highly-experienced left back Alexander Büttner and signed 16-year-old midfielder Damian Rivera to a homegrown player contract. 

But while the Revolution are busy adding players, forward Juan Fernando Caicedo reportedly will be leaving the organization, according to ESPN, after a one-year loan from Independiente Medellin of Colombia. 

After an exciting turnaround that saw the team make the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, more is in store for the rising Revolution. 

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