BOSTON (CBS) — Leading up to the 2021 season, the New England Revolution were pounding home the message that the club needed to get off to a fast start this year. Slow and sluggish starts have put New England behind the pack in recent years, forcing the Revs to play a furious game of catch up late in the season.

But this time around, Bruce Arena is getting the fast start that he wanted. New England improved to 2-0-1 on the season with a 2-1 victory over Atlanta FC on Saturday night, and the Revs currently sit in first place of the Eastern Conference with seven points.

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There is a long way to go with 31 games left on the schedule, but so far so good for Arena and New England.

“This is a challenging schedule. It’s going to get even more complicated once we start playing a number of games a week. But we needed to start off well, and we have,” Arena said after Saturday’s win. “We needed to win games at home, which we have as well. So far, it’s a good start. I know next week in Nashville is going to be a really, really challenging game.”

The Revs have won both of their home tilts so far this season, and the 7-point start matches the best three-game start in franchise history. A win in Nashville this weekend would also match the best-ever four-game start by the club, when the Revs had 10 points after four games to start the 2005 season. New England finished that season in first place in the East before falling to the L.A. Galaxy in the MLS Cup.

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“We knew we had to start the season well – we didn’t do that last year,” midfielder Carles Gil said Saturday. “Now, we’re focused on preparing for Nashville and to come away with three points in that game.”

The Revs earned their first victory two weeks ago off an own-goal in their home opener against D.C. United, a hard-fought, gritty defensive effort. They exploded for three goals this past weekend, with Gil assisting on Brandon Bye’s tally to get the scoring started before giving New England the lead for good off a second-half penalty kick.

“I think every game shows different ways we can play. At the end of the day, we won last week and won this week so that’s important, winning different ways and showing that we can do that,” said Bye, who has a goal and three shots on the year. “It’s just another building block and another step forward in the right direction.”

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Tune in to Saturday afternoon’s New England-Nashville match on TV38! Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m.

CBSBoston.com Staff