ATL vs SKC | Post-Match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Sporting KC
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: May 9th, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 0-2 SKC (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino                                  

On 4-2-3-1 formation:

“We decided to play in this formation because of the style that Kansas City plays. They are a team that likes to build out the back. We knew that if we played in our 4-2-3-1 system that we had to pressure those guys one-on-one all the way up the field, and if we had stuck with our five at the back system we would have let them play out of the back without any pressure and that would have opened up all of their passing lanes that they like to create. I thought before the game, and I still think, that this formation was the best way to play against teams like Kansas City that like to build out of the back.”

On if he is happy with the way Paul Christensen played:

“It was very difficult, but he played very well. Furthermore, he had a great save on a one-on-one chance when the game was still tied 0-0.”

On the takeaways from today’s match:

“Peter (Vermes) is very strong in this league. Kansas City and Columbus have a style of play that make them among the best teams. When we were playing 11 vs. 11, I thought we were playing better than Kansas City.”

On how he Sal Zizzo performed in his first start:

“I thought he played well. It was the first complete game he played for us. We put him at rightback because we thought it was the best option for him to control (Dániel) Sallói and that side of the field because he’s in really good form right now. He’s a very dangerous player. He’s very good one-on-one. He scored a goal from outside the box, but other than that, I thought Sal did a very good job.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Paul Christensen

On how his experience was and how he got ready on such short notice:

“I think it’s just going into the game preparing like I’m going to play, kind-of watching Brad (Guzan) what he does. (Goalkeeper Coach) Aron (Hyde) said right before I went in that it’s just like training. I’ve seen some of the best guys in the league every day, so it’s nothing different, so just being confident in my game and confident in what I can bring to the table. (I’ll) try my best to help the team win the best I can.”

On if he thinks that he will play Sunday:

“That’s a coach’s decision. I’ll be ready, but that’s a coach’s decision. ”

On the difference between the MLS and the USL:

“I think it’s just the speed and just the knowledge of the players. Having (Michael Parkhurst) and (Leandro González Pirez) in front of me, they made it really easy. Those guys were working very hard to block shots and doing everything that they could to help me out. (They were) just giving me a lot of confidence in everything. Guys were just telling me to calm down, play my game, do what I can and try to help the team.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

On how the home crowd:

“The crowd was fantastic. They really pushed us tonight. They were loud the whole time. They appreciated the defending (and) the effort the guys were putting in. They tried to give us that boost and honestly, I thought we had some big chances. You know, Miguel (Almirón) and Josef and Barco were just creating things offensively on the counter-attack. I thought that even though they had a lot of possession, we were relatively comfortable. Paul made a big save on Russell early in the second half but other than that I thought 'okay we're doing pretty well here' but, the goal kind-of comes out of nowhere, nothing. It was a pretty good finish. But even after that we continued to press and press. Even with tired legs, we almost tied it up. I can't believe that one of Kevin's free kicks don't go in. We have a couple of other half chances. Just a really good effort by the guys tonight.”

On how he thinks goalkeeper Paul Christensen performed in his debut:

“Great. It’s a tough spot for him, you know, just being called up for a few games (and) not thinking he’s going to play. To step in, down a man, I thought he did really well. He communicated well. He made that big save for us early in the second half. So, kudos to him for being ready and stepping up in a tough spot.” 

Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pirez                                  

On the game:

“I think we played well. Up until the red card, I think we were deserving of winning the match then the red card changed things. I'm not going to argue that it’s a foul, but for me, I didn't think it was worthy of a red card because the ball was going out of bounds and I ran back to cover the goal. Then, obviously, in the second half, we’re playing a man down and we were able to create a lot of chances and we had some counter attacks. We were able to get forward, but I’m really proud of the way the team fought and the effort the team put in tonight.”

On if he was playing more carefully:

I was hardly careful because I know I have four yellows, but I tried to play normal, I take the other card, but I tried to play normal (and) to be more careful, but I tried to play normal.”

On how he thinks they did on a switch back to the 4-3-3 from the three at the back defense:

We switched because they have a lot of movement and they move the ball really good and quick and they have fast players. We tried to put one-vs-one all over the field. We tried to manage the ball and manage the game. When we were 11 against 11 we did, but after, we tried to wait and go on counter attacks.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On goalkeeper Paul Christensen’s debut:

“I thought he did really well. You can see in the second half he was called upon to make a few saves. As soon as he gets on the field, I think his distribution is good. I can hear him communicating as well. He didn’t shy away from the occasion.”

On preparing for Orlando ‘without Brad Guzan’:

“Well the coach will make that decision, and we’ll move on. We all trust Paul (Christensen) and know that he’s capable. Obviously, today is the jumping off point for him. The team will move on and do what it can. Obviously, it’s a big game. It’s a team that’s hot and we’re going to go into their place, and we’re going to go and try to win.”

On how the team approaches staying aggressive and creating chances when down a man:

“We spoke about it at half time. We wanted to be solid defensively but also when we had our opportunities to break we wanted to do that. Luckily, we’ve got three of the better players in the league at counter attacking and creating chance with very little. I thought they did that pretty well. They bring Kevin (Kratz) on and he has two opportunities that are right in his wheelhouse and (Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim) Melia makes some good saves. He saves another one from Miguel (Almirón) later on (and) shows why he was goalkeeper of the year last year. They’re a good team front to back, so it was expected, but overall, I think it was a good performance.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On what he told goalkeeper Paul Christensen before he went in:

“I told him to enjoy the moment. We’ve all been there. We’ve all made our debuts at some point in our careers. For him, it was a proud moment to make his professional debut with the first team. I told him to enjoy the moment and take it all in.”


Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes

On beating the top-team in the Eastern Conference and taking over Supporters’ Shield standings:

“Probably the best team in the league, I’d say. They are. Probably make the comparison – years ago, you remember ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ with the Rams? It’s kind of the same thing here too. I told Tata (Martino) this is a great environment, this club has done an unbelievable job, the stadium, the players that they have brought in, the way they built their team, fans obviously are connected with the way they play. The one thing when you come in here, which we knew we had to do, was there was a big objective for them to try to score the first goal and break us psychologically. Haven’t seen the VAR situation yet, but we have been burned on that before so whether we got one, I don’t know. The fact that they didn’t score that first goal and I thought we came out and played with some confidence. Not easy to come to this place and keep the ball. Unfortunately, for (Brad Guzan), he has to make that play. If he doesn’t take out Khiry (Shelton), Khiry goes in and taps it in to an open net. In some cases, it didn’t necessarily help us all that much. It did, but it didn’t, right? Because if you don’t get anything out of it, you still have to score after that. It is still 0-0. What happened in the box probably would have been a different situation, get a penalty kick, whatever. The last thing I would say is that (Atlanta) put a good effort in the last 10 minutes of the game to really try to pull one back, but Tim (Melia) was at a different level.”

On the clean sheet:

“I thought for the most part, we were very good defensively. You know you are going to give up some crosses. You know you are going to give up some situations. Every team does around the world. So, it is not any different when you come here. But I thought the two free kicks and then (Miguel) Almirón’s bender to the back post – to me, Tim (Melia) is man of the match. Any of those goals could have changed the game a little bit. Outside of that, I thought we handled them really well. I really do. We crossed some balls across their box as well that were dangerous. It’s not like both teams didn’t have a little bit of that, but those chances at the end could have changed the game and Tim came big in those moments.”

On if the red card changed SKC’s game plan:

“No. Other than the fact that we lost the ball, maybe we would step up a little higher because we were an extra man. Especially when we started the second half we talked a little bit about that. It only makes sense, right? Why give them time? We have an extra man, let’s go and put pressure on them. We want to try and win the ball back quickly. I also think that we expended a lot of energy. You always have more energy when you play at home no matter what. I think we lost some energy in the game towards the end, but we also did not lose ourselves in the game. The last thing was, the only thing we wanted to do when we were up a man was we were going to have to have a little more penetrating movement up front. We were afraid that they were going to block-in – become two blocks, two lines and we were going to deal with a parking-the-bus thing and then a counter. Also, we have to be a little intelligent on the break. I thought we did a good job of that.”

On if the game plan was to be more conservative against Atlanta:

“Not conservative. What I would say is, our line of where we wanted to defend was maybe just a little bit lower than maybe normal. But also because we felt that they like to send numbers forward, and if we could catch them the other way, and we did on the red card – caught them the other way – we could play in behind them because we have some fast guys up front. That was a little bit more of our objective. But the other thing that we are good at, we can keep the ball. We are good in possession. That was a big objective of ours coming here, was to have the ball as much as we possibly could. Obviously, it became a lot easier with 10 men.”

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia

On keeping a clean sheet:

“(Atlanta) has a phenomenal team here. Great environment. Top-of-the-line stadium. This team is so fast. They get on the ball, they get numbers in and around the 18. They look to combine and they are dangerous. I thought we did a really good job until the red card of trying to eliminate those chances or forcing them to be under a little bit more pressure when they did have opportunities, because they did. Obviously, the red card played a big part in the game, but at the end of the day, we took advantage of the opportunity to gain some points in a really difficult place to play.”

On Kevin Kratz’s free kick attempts:

“Obviously, last home game he scored two free kicks. For me, when the free kicks are that close you try to play them true. If they get it up and down over the wall with pace and beat you, so be it. For me, the biggest thing is don’t give up an easy goal because you are cheating.”

On if they made a statement beating the top team in the Eastern Conference:

“I think it is too early for statements. None of that stuff is important to us. We played 11 games, they are on 11 games I believe. Things are going to change drastically in this league as everybody knows. Right now, I think we just need to focus on that we came here, we got a really good result. The red card definitely played a part, but we got the three points, and now we have a little bit of a break to rest guys up and get ready for our next match.”

Sporting Kansas City forward Dániel Sallói

On beating the top team in the Eastern Conference:

“It was a very difficult game. This is a great team and we had to be really locked in and focused. We are lucky that we made a good play and the goalkeeper got a red card. It was a red card, but it obviously helped us. I think it was difficult even after. We had to manage the game well because they are really good on the counter, even when they are a man down. But we were patient and we got our goals. Tim’s saves were necessary too. He was unbelievable. This is a great win, probably the biggest one this season.”

On his goal and if Atlanta using a backup goalkeeper helped:

“We knew that this is the keeper’s first game, so we had to test him. It was difficult because they dropped back so it is hard to break a defense like that. We had some shots, but they didn’t hit the target. We kept trying and I really thought that I could curl one. So, I was really happy about that. Obviously, when you are a man up, a lead is really important and we got it. I think Gerso’s (Fernandes) goal helped a lot at the end. But this is a great win and great three points.”

On playing in front of a large crowd:

“This was awesome. Honestly, I have never played in front of a crowd like this before. This is unbelievable. This whole stadium. When we walk out – wow, I was shocked. It really got me pumped. That was my plan, to quiet the crowd and it worked out. I’m happy about that and I am happy that I could help the team.”