Atlanta United begins defense of its MLS Cup by hosting the New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday in an Eastern Conference first-round knockout match.
Even though No. 2 seed Atlanta (18-12-4, 58 points in the regular season) is a third-year franchise, it has also won the 2019 U.S. Open and Campeones cups, the latter by defeating the Mexican league champion.
All three tournament finals were played at home.
"Ultimately, what it comes back to is we've been in this situation and we've played important games at home," midfielder Julian Gressel said. "We've made the run before as where other teams have not. I hope that experience will pay off a little bit and we have that edge going into this."
New England (11-11-12, 45 points) is making its first postseason appearance since 2015 but does have Bruce Arena, who replaced Bred Friedel as coach in May.
Arena is the league's all-time leader in playoff wins (32) and MLS Cup titles (five - two with D.C. United, three with the Los Angeles Galaxy).
More importantly from a Revolution standpoint, they were 3-2-6 in their final 11 away matches with Arena after starting 0-4-2 on the road under Friedel.
Defender Jalil Anibaba said New England, the No. 7 seed, is ready.
"We don't really see it as too much of an issue because we've done relatively well on the road this year," he said. "I think that's something that we've really improved on, so as far as games being on the road in the playoffs, it is what it is for us."
The Revolution are led by 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year, midfielder Carles Gil (10 goals, 14 assists).
Atlanta will be without defender Miles Robinson (hamstring), who was injured while training with the U.S. men's national team.
The winner faces either the Philadelphia Union or New York Red Bulls in a conference semifinal on Thursday. As the higher seed, Atlan
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