Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs RSL

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Real Salt Lake
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: September 22, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 2-0 RSL (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino

On coaching Julian and pushing him to a high level:

“I always appreciate the nice words from the players, but I believe as a coach that we work with the players up to certain point. Because the really important thing is the conditions of the player. So when a player has good conditions, we can help them grow, maybe in their game or within the style of the team. I always think the most important in their development starts with the player. For example, with Julian, I didn’t develop him to play as a right back, right wing back, an inside midfielder, a right winger. The same goes for Tito Villalba. I didn’t develop him to play on the right, left winger or in the center.  Those are just the qualities that he brings to the table. We try to put them into the best scheme to help them be successful.”

On having one hand on the Supporter’s Shield:

“Yeah, we might have a hand on it, but the Red Bulls want to cut that hand off (laughing). What leaves me happiest is, first that we took nine out of nine points, but furthermore that in the third game we were able to find our level of play again. The level of play today and the victory.”

On the form of Eric Remedi, allowing the coaching staff to move other players around:

“Like we were saying about Julian (Gressel) and Tito (Villalba), Jeff Larentowicz is another player that has the ability to play as a holding midfielder or a center back. Same thing goes for Remedi, playing as an inside holding midfielder, or a bit on the right side of midfield. Not every player has the ability to play in different positions. I think we have four or five players who can play different positions. That benefits us and allows us to move them around and to switch formations and try and do different things to put the best lineup on the field in each match.”

On the performance of George Bello tonight:

“The good thing is that we have young players that we can add to a very solid team. So when we put those players on the field, there is a better chance of them performing well because we have good players around them. We’re very happy with the job that George did. This game we also wanted to give a couple of guys some rest in Chris (McCann) and Michael (Parkhurst). George came on and he did a really good job. You have to remember that he is only 16 years old. But he has to be brave to come in and step into that spot. He’s very young but he played well and could have even scored a goal.”

On the fluidity of the front three tonight:

“I think the guys played well up front tonight. Miguel was maybe missing a little precision in his finishing tonight. Josef had a couple of crosses that were coming his way, but didn’t reach him. Tito did a great job and was rewarded with a goal. What happens when we press high, we are a compact team like in the first half tonight. But in the second half, we were forced to drop back a little bit, but then there is more space for us to hit on the counterattacks. Sometimes when teams get divided into two parts like that, it’s bad. But for us it can be a good thing, because we have so much space on the counterattack. Those three guys can get the ball and start a counterattack by themselves.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On the degree of skill his goal required:

“I’ll let you answer that. I mean the ball bounces perfectly right onto my chest, so I didn’t even have to jump or anything. Take a pretty good touch with it, and it bounces nicely in front of me. Then, I just tried to bend it right over everyone. It went right where it’s supposed to go.”

On how Tata Martino has pushed him to succeed:

“He’s just had a really high standard for me ever since I came in. He didn’t categorize me as just a rookie back last year. He’s just come here and had a really high standard for me. I don’t know what he saw in me, but at least some potential. Yeah, I like that. You know, every team a manager has that high standards of you, you hold yourself more accountable as well and to a higher standard even more so. That’s just the person I am, and I’ve learned so much from him. I’ve been very fortunate to have him as a little mentor and my coach.”

On whether he enjoys scoring goals or making assists more:

“I prefer to assist over one goal. Ultimately, to me, it doesn’t really matter. It’s pretty nice to score a goal once in awhile, but if I can provide assists, that’s fine with me as well. You know, I don’t need to score. Ultimately, the thing that matters is that we win at the end of the day. You know, that’s just the ultimate goal, even if I don’t get anything. Yeah, I don’t really care which one.”

On George Bello’s performance tonight:

“I thought he had a great game. He was clean on the ball, you know. He didn’t really seem to be too nervous, which I’m sure he was because he seemed like that in the locker room, but on the field, it didn’t seem like it. But, no, he had a great performance. There’s many more starts for him to come in his professional career.”

On George Bello’s nerves in the locker room:

“Just asking a lot of questions, especially with me. You know, kind of how to be as a wingback, and he found out yesterday, so I asked him if he slept last night. He said yeah, a little bit. I know, you can tell him. But, like I’ve said, he didn’t seem like that at all on the field, and he had a tremendous performance, and there’s many more to come.”

On the plan going into the game against Real Salt Lake’s wingers:

“We were very aware of their front four, and that’s kind of like San Jose. We didn’t really make any errors tonight in the back, maybe that one extra guy helped, with the five in the back, but they’re a good team, and we had to have our best performance of the week in order to win this game, and I think we did. Yeah, that’s ultimately just the thing that matters, and we got the three points.”

On exceeding expectations coming off his successful senior year of college:

“I mean, I’m just playing. Just going out there every day and training, trying to get better. Just continuing to perform better every week on the field. Why should I change that? It’s kind of worked ever since college, or even before. Just the same mindset. I’m not really going home and being like ‘man, I played…’ No, I’m not doing that. So, I’m going to look at it and be critical of myself and Tata (Martino) is critical with me, like we’ve mentioned, and I’m just going to try to continue to learn and get better.”

On whether it is a goal of his to lead the league in assists:

“The goal is to just to support our shield in the MLS Cup. It doesn’t matter if I’m up there or not. It doesn’t matter if I get one more, or 10 more, zero more. I think we want to win a trophy. That’s what we’ve said in the locker room, and that’s what we want to do this year.”

On the upcoming game against New York Red Bulls:

“Kind of a big one, but I think the pressure’s on them, you know. We’re the number one, and we’ll stay there no matter what the outcome is of that game. We have a nice and calm week to prepare and get ready, and why not go there and win and then kind of make it really tough for them? So, I think the pressure is on them, but we’ll have a nice, calm week. Good week of training that we’ll prepare for them, and then we’ll be ready for the game.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On how big of a confidence boost is it for the team to get nine points over the last three games:

“I don’t know if it’s a confidence boost. I think it was a goal that we set. Somehow, Wednesday, we achieved the three. Tonight, it made it nine. We set the goal. We reached it. I think it was huge for us.”

On what it says about the team to start George Bello and bring Ezequiel Barco off the bench:

“Just as facts. He’s 16. He played. Ezequiel (Barco) came in. He helped the team, as always. It’s a win for Atlanta United.”

On what makes Julian Gressel ‘so indispensable’ as a member of this team throughout both seasons:

“He’s kind-of done it all. I think that, honestly, from the moment he came in, in Bradenton (Fla.) last year, you know that there was something about him. He’s a special player. Last year, he did it where he was playing multiple positions. This year, you feel like he has, as well, probably not as much as last year, but I think that he’s excelled at every single one. Any player playing at that level with that sort-of confidence is going to help the team. He seems like he’s in the middle of everything good that’s Atlanta United when we’re on the field.”

On Julian Gressel’s effectiveness from the right side of the pitch:

“The point I’m making with last year when we saw him was that he was a guy that could probably play anywhere. I think that even when he’s played in other spots it’s a different type of effectiveness, but it’s still effective. He might not be setting up goals as a number eight, but he’s doing a job effectively. His play on the wing is outstanding. I think the way that he finds the spaces, and his quality on the ball in the box is great. He’s consistent. He’s confident. He’s been one of our top performers for two years.”

On George Bello’s performance:

“George is, honestly, (it) seems like he’s been ready for a while. I think that he has all the tools. I think if you threw the age out the window, and you just looked at him as a player, you would say he’s absolutely ready. I think that it’s true, when he got on the field, he did really well for the team. I think that the amazing thing for Atlanta United fans and for the team is that he is 16 (years old). Hopefully, there’s many years to come.”

On what makes Julian Gressel so special:

“I think the thing to note with Julian coming out of college is that it’s a lot more difficult for those players. The league has changed so much over the last 10 years or so. The additional money that’s come into the league that goes to certain players over others makes it difficult for players to come out of college and be able to excel. Julian has done that. I think that it shows that he’s had that extra bit of drive, that extra bit of motivation. Honestly, at the pro level, it has to be self-belief, and Julian has that. He’s just grown and grown. He’s his own man. He’s done really well.”

Atlanta United defender George Bello

On if he was nervous:

“There are always nerves. I was kind-of jittery, kind-of shaking during the day. Last night, (I) got some rest, and once I took the first touch of the ball, I was like alright this is what I do, this is what I need to do, so I calmed down after that, and I just tried to play the best I could play.”

On whether he felt a lot of pressure because of his age:

“I wouldn’t say pressure. My teammates just all talked to me, made me feel calm (and) told me to just be calm, so all those guys just helping me out and having my back just made me feel better and not having pressure on me.”

On how he thought he did:

“I think I did pretty good for a first MLS start. A few things I can tweak here and there, but it’s only the beginning here. I just need to learn from the mistakes and just keep going and improving myself.”

On what those little things are in particular:

“I would say maybe one-on-one defending (Jefferson) Savarino. Sometimes, I would step too early, but it’s just a learning curve, and I would just move on from there and keep working.”

On what it means that Tata (Martino) shows that kind of confidence in him:

“It means a lot because not everyone gets to make their MLS debut at the age of 16, so it is just really a blessing, and I just thank him for the opportunity as well.”

On if Tata gave him a special talk before the gam: 

“No, he just said enjoy it. I don’t have any responsibilities, so just go out there and have fun. Don’t be nervous, just stay calm and enjoy it.” 

On how he prepared:

“We watched film on him before hand and the days leading to it. He is a very technical player. He’s quick, so coaches told me to contain him and try not to stab, and when the right moment to press comes to press him, so I just tried to do that as well as I could”.

On how many family members were in attendance:

“Like seven or eight. We had a lot, so it was great support out there.”

On how the veterans pushed him:

“They, again, told me to be calm (and) gave me encouragement (and) never put me down if I were to make a mistake. They would just tell me to keep going, keep going and when I would do good things, they would complement me, so they just made everything feel calm and not stressful.”

On his pregame questions for Julian Gressel:

“They were just on my head because you know he plays the right wingback as well, and I am playing the left wingback, so I was asking for tips and tricks and stuff like that for him to give me before the game.”

On the best piece of advice from Julian Gressel:

“Just to have fun. Don’t stress out and be calm. That’s the best piece of advice – to be honest – because if you are stressed out and just nervous you will not play good, so I just tried to be as calm as I could.” 

Atlanta United forward Hector (Tito) Villalba

On the game:

“A difficult game. Very difficult because of the trip. We didn’t have a break. They were three games that were tough for us, but luckily, we finished at home with our fans, 2-0, and that’s important.”

On the upcoming game against New York Red Bulls:

“It’s a nice game because we’re both at the top. Luckily, we were able to create a good difference (in the table), and we’ll see what happens.”

On if he would take a draw:

“Never. We’re going to go there and play our game. Be calm, and we’ll see what happens.”

On his play and how he feels physically:

“Little by little, I’m improving. Keep in mind, I didn’t have a pre-season. I got injured three times. I didn’t start the best way, but the important thing is to finish in the best form.”

Atlanta United Defender José Hernández

On his chance to play in today’s match:

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, you know. And I’m just really happy and glad that I could help the team.”

On the coaching staff for Atlanta United:

“Since I arrived in January, the coaching staff and my teammates have done a really good job letting me get adapted to the team as well as possible and just getting to know how each one of my teammates likes to play. And, thanks to them, I’m fitting in well.”

On how he wanted to help the team:

“Yeah, after the week that we’ve had, I think the team was a little tired. Leandro (González Pirez) played about 260 minutes and Josef (Martinez) and Miguel (Almirón) and all those guys have played a lot of minutes this week. So, when I went in I was thinking about trying to help out mostly on the defensive end.”

On his chance in today’s match:

“Yeah, I’m a young player, and I arrived to one of the best teams in the league, so I knew that I was going to have to wait a little bit for my moment. But, finally it came, and I’m enjoying it.”

On what’s next for the team:

“Yeah, we wanted to get nine points out of these games, but tomorrow is a new day. So, we’re going to take on that responsibility and go into this difficult game in New York and try to make the push to win the Supporters’ Shield. 


Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke

On the match:

“Listen, this is the best team in the league. This is the toughest place to play in the league. I’m proud of my guys as far as everybody working, everybody on the same page, the pressure on the sideline that we put, which was our plan. They did everything I asked of them and the work rate was phenomenal, but it is a tough place to come in. Obviously, the second goal we gave them. The first goal you could argue as well that we just didn’t have in that single moment, we didn’t have the fight that we needed, but they are a quality team. At the end of the day, it is a great learning experience for the guys, especially our young guys.”

On how this experience benefits the team in the playoffs:

“After the game talking about it, if the work rate and the movement that we had defensively –everybody committed – is there the rest of the year, we did it well in an environment like this against a team like this. So, we have to continue the momentum, especially next week on the road at Kansas City, a similar team – a very talented team – our movement and our shape has to be very close to what it was tonight.”

On using Sebastián Saucedo in the game and having him continue attacking:

“I don’t care. To me, there’s no difference in losing 1-0 or 5-0, to be honest with you. If you are not pushing the play, then … what are you doing here? You should always be looking to win, so that’s why I did it. We wanted three solid guys defending in the back. … Last year, we had a lot of tough losses, and if you were safe if you lost 1-0. Goal differential and maybe Nick (Rimando) is not happy with goals getting conceded when you have three in the back, but at the end of the day, I want to try to win.”

On the next match at Sporting Kansas City:

“Similar to what we did leading up to this match. I thought that (Atlanta) forced us to play faster than we have, which is great. Next week is going to be the same. The kind of press Kansas City brings, just like Atlanta, is quick, it is numbers, a lot of numbers, and it is high intensity. They force you to play quick, so (the) same stuff that we did leading up to Atlanta, we are going to have to continue against Kansas City.”

Real Salt Lake defender Justen Glad

On the feeling in the locker room:

“We’re disappointed, obviously, but credit to Atlanta. They took their chances. They’re a solid team. We weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be on the night, so we’re just looking forward to Kansas City.”

On the team’s momentum:

“I think despite this game, despite the result, we’re still pretty confident. We’re ready to go in and go onto Sporting Kansas City and play confident. We know what we’re able to do, so all eyes ahead.”

On the team’s progress this season:

“Obviously, the results at the beginning of the season, we started out slow. We went down two goals away, but we kept our heads down and tried to fight until the end, and we had some chances. They had a few more (chances), but I’m proud of how we fought today.”