Soccer officially returned to the newly remodeled Dillon Stadium where Hartford Athletic hosted New England Revolution II in a preseason friendly on Saturday, debuting their new gray away kit and coming out victorious.
The first time both sides met on Feb. 19, NE Rev II were pummeled in a 5-1 defeat to the “Boys in Green.” The main star of this match was Athletic forward Ever “Cheno” Guzmán, who buried four goals in the back of the Revs’ net before the end of the first half. NE Rev II did, however, get revenge with a 1-0 win, the lone goal coming from Ryan Spaulding, days after.
Finishing No. 17 in the eastern conference for its 2019 inaugural season in the USL Championship, Athletic looked to bring more wins to fans after dipping its feet in the water. Albeit NE Rev II play in a lower division, the USL League One, this preseason match served as prep for Hartford’s season opener against New York Red Bulls II on Friday.
In the opening minutes of the match, Alex Dixon found himself with open space and made a clear run into Revolution’s box. The Athletic forward then found Ever Guzmán, who slid in time to put the ball into the back of the net making Hartford take the lead. Athletic also saw good chances from midfielder Aiden Mesias and Dixon, but their shots were just wide. Goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda also had a diving save in the 1st half to prevent the Revs from equalizing.
Hartford retained the same momentum they left off with in the first half, and midfielder Mads Jørgensen took the first shot of the second that ended up going straight to the keeper. Several minutes later and the Boys in Green (or gray in this case) found themselves with another chance for a goal when midfielder Tyreke Johnson crossed the ball to forward Alfonso Vazquez, however the Revs played good defense and deflected the shot out of play. Athletic midfielder Danny Barrera tried once more to make the scoreboard 2-0 after an attempt to curl the ball in, but NE Rev keeper Joe Rice managed to block the shot. Minutes later, the Revs equalized.
With the game being leveled, Hartford gave it their all to retain the lead; and forward Andre Deas answered the call. After a cross from outside the box bounced in his path, he tapped the ball over the keeper and into the goal.
Several minutes later, Vazquez had another chance to widen the lead but was once again denied by the keeper. It was Jørgensen who later gave Hartford a two-goal lead in the final minutes of the game.
Hartford’s second season in the USL begins on the road Friday against NY Red Bulls II, a side who have proven to be rather dominant. Along with placing higher than Athletic last season at No. 6, Hartford’s first meetup against the Baby Bulls resulted in a 4-0 defeat on the road; and hosting them saw similar results, losing 5-1. Hartford’s first home match will be July 20 against Loudon United FC.