Trophy Raise

Post Match Quotes | U.S. Open Cup Final

  • Match: Atlanta United FC vs Minnesota United FC
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA 
  • Date: August 27, 2019
  • Final Score: ATL 2-1 MIN (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

On winning a second trophy in less than a month

“It is always nice to win trophies. I think that is why you start playing soccer, because you love it, but also because you want to win, and today, we achieved something very beautiful for the club and for the players. Of course, we have a short history as Atlanta United FC, but to win the US Open Cup in our third year is a fantastic achievement and compliments everybody who made this possible.”

On Eric Remedi and Darlington Nagbe’s performance today

“I think with the heat, they were tired. The do a lot of dirty work in this environment. They can do a little more indoors. It also depends how the opponent plays. They were sitting a little deeper and we could build up from behind. If we lost a ball, we could directly press them. There was nothing going on at that moment. I think they played a fantastic role today. They decided to play a little bit more defensive and wait for a counter attack to see how we solve those problems. It was great to see. I really had the feeling that we could have made it 3-0. When it was 2-1, I believed they were in it.

On the close finish

“Yeah, there’s no question. At that moment you have to really play as a team and fight as a team. This helps for the team spirit. Of course, winning is always fun, especially when you do it this way - at the end. It helps. They know that we need everybody, inside and outside the field. I think it’s already what you see on the field already. You see that they want to fight for each other. Again, good results help. But, I have the feeling when I see them in training, they’re really up for it.”

On qualifying for CONCACAF Champions League

“That is something very important, and we want to achieve every season, and now, we are ready to achieve this. It’s about this, of course, besides winning the US Open Cup, we love to compete to be the best team … and we showed already in the Champions Cup, and now, we want to do it from the start in the CONCACAF Champions League. It’s good for Atlanta United, it’s good for MLS, and we want to be prepared, and we already had the experience this year, so hopefully, we can do better next season.”

On the importance of this game and if it is a ‘turning point in the season’

“In that moment, you really have to play as a team and fight as a team, and this helps for the team spirit. Of course, winning is always fun but especially when you do it like this way at the end. It helps so they know that we need everybody inside and outside the field. Hopefully, I think it’s already what you see on the field already, you see that they want to fight for each other.”

On Justin Meram and what he has brought to the team since joining from Columbus

“He’s a quality player. He is two-footed – can play well with his right and his left. He gave his assist tonight with his left foot, and he’s comfortable on the ball. He never panics. It’s important you have players who give you a little bit of air. When he gets the ball, you look and see what he is doing now. You know he’s very solid in his actions. When it’s a two-v-one situation, he will play it simple. I’m very happy he chose to come here with us and I think he’s also very happy. He’s a fantastic guy. He can still learn a lot in this position. It’s a new position for him. When we dominate, he’s playing in his favored position (left wing). But, for example when we were down to 10-men and we get pushed back by the opponent, he’s playing more like a fullback. It’s a different position for him, but he’s doing great. He’s getting an understanding of what we expect from him. It’s good that he’s sometimes on my side, so I can push him forward or backwards (laughs). But, I think he is enjoying himself, and he’s a great guy. He deserves to play because he is doing really well right now.”

 

Atlanta United Goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On Atlanta United winning their third trophy in nine months

“It’s a good feeling. We talked before the game. We talked about being a winning club, winning trophies, being a big club, and that’s what it’s about. We held on in the second half. We’ve done enough, and it feels good.”

On being in a familiar position

“For sure, it’s a habit. You know, again, we mentioned it at the beginning of the game. We’ve talked about this being our home, this being, you know a familiar feeling, to host the final. Being here, using our savviness, using our ‘know how’ of being in this situation, and then ultimately, finding a way to get the job done, and we did that.”

On Atlanta United establishing themselves as a ‘big club’

“Yeah. I think so. Well, you know, we’ve got one more to go. It’s not feeling satisfied. If that makes sense. It’s a feeling of, yeah, we’ll enjoy tonight, and we understand what it’s about to win trophies and win big tournaments, but ultimately, there’s a big one later on in a few months, and so, we’ve got a big game Saturday. So, mentally, we’ve got to make sure we recharge the batteries and find a way to go up there and put together a performance that allows us to get a result.”

On having another chance at the CONCACAF Champions League

“Listen, this year going into the Champions League, on the back of MLS Cup – short rest, this and that whatever, new manager changes, we certainly weren’t at our best at the beginning of the year – and so, now, to have a second go at it, you know, we want to try and show that we can compete with the best in the region. I think Champions League obviously allows us that opportunity. But, we’re certainly better than what we showed this year in Champions League, and so I think next year could be potentially a different showing if we make sure we get off to a good start.”

On comparing today to the MLS Cup

“A little bit, but ultimately, we go through our same routines – in terms of a regular-season game. We knew it’s a final. You don’t need to talk about. You don’t need to build it up. You don’t need to hype it up. These are the games that you want to be involved in. These are the games that you want to play for. As players, as competitors, you want to play to win things. Ultimately, when we’re all done playing, you look back, and say, ‘Yeah, I won this. I won that. I did this. I did that.’ That’s what it’s about. To add this, the trophy cabinet is slowly starting to accumulate some hardware. Like I’ve said, we’ve got another one in a couple months that we’ve got our eyes on, so it’s good. We’ll enjoy it for a few hours and get ready to go again.”

On winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup during the run of the regular season

“Teams do it all over the world. Club competitions, cup competitions, it is the nature of the game. It is the nature of the sport. It is what it is. We enter competitions to win them. We do not go out with the idea of just tossing it off and look forward to a leave or whatever. When we enter competitions, we want to win. We set out from the beginning with the Open Cup, the Campeones Cup, and now we have to try and do it with the MLS Cup.”

 

Atlanta United FC Midfielder Julian Gressel

On what today’s win means for the club

“The biggest clubs in the world win trophies. It doesn’t matter if it’s a super cup, a Campeones Cup, U.S. Open Cup, whatever it is. That’s what we’ve been doing the last year. We’ve obviously won three. We look to continue that because it’s what big clubs do. We want to continue that and definitely see ourselves as a big club.”

On qualifying for the Champions League

“It’s nice. I think that’s the one game I’d like to have back this year. We came out of that not how we would have liked. That’s the one game that I regret but it’s nice to be in that competition again. It’s definitely a goal of mine to play in the club world championships, and that gets you there with a win in the Champions League so that would be nice.”

On the physicality of tonight’s game

“It was tough today, especially going down a man and having constant pressure. To be honest, I felt like we played against not just 11 of Minnesota. Especially the last 30 minutes that’s how it felt like. It’s tough, I haven’t really felt fresh in the last month but this definitely feels good and my legs actually feel pretty good right now. It obviously feels good to win trophies. Saturday is obviously a big one, and we’ll be ready once that comes, but tonight, we’ll enjoy this.”

On staying composed the rest of the regular season

“It’s tough because MLS Cup was at the end of it. It was kind-of done. With the Campeones Cup, it was a good and fun night but it wasn’t as big as this. This is something we’ll enjoy tonight, recover tomorrow, and then, all focus goes to Philly. We’ll have a chance to recover after that.”

On tonight’s crowd

“I think with the fans before the game, everyone doesn’t know too much about the U.S. Open Cup. It’s been around so much, and obviously doesn’t mean as much as the MLS Cup. Maybe the fans just don’t really know much about it. But when they see us on the field and see us competing for this and really wanting this, then everyone gets behind that. I was on the bench for the last 10 minutes, and I tried to get everyone up because I felt like we needed it on the field. It’s another incredible night in Atlanta and another trophy. Just another fun night for the fans as well.”

 

Atlanta United Midfielder Justin Meram

On how it feels to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

“Fantastic. We’re enjoying ourselves in the locker room right now.”

On if he could ‘imagine’ anything like this after being traded to Atlanta United

“Not a bad trade. I’m not mad about it. It’s God’s plan giving me this opportunity to play for this club and to win a couple trophies already. Now, we’ve got one more in sight.”

On the team’s mentality and ability to win games

“When I got here, the mentality here is all about winning. Anything else is a failure. For this club, the expectations are just so high every day. You kind-of get obsessed with it, and you want to keep pushing more and more for this club and these fans and this city. So, in our minds, every game, we know that we’re going to go in with confidence especially in Cup games, we know we’re going to come out on top.”

On the team’s confidence going into the game later this week against the Philadelphia Union

“Philadelphia – we’ve been neck and neck for the last two months. It’s going to be a difficult match. It’s always tough to play there, but we’re going to celebrate tonight and regroup tomorrow.”

 

Atlanta United FC Forward Josef Martínez

On how the team can keep the momentum going heading into another big game

“This game was very important for us. Up until the expulsion of Leandro (González Pirez), we had a lot of chances to end the game, and we didn’t finish them. After, with an extra player, you have to respect what they did as well, but we are the champions tonight.”

On how much he’s looking forward to playing the CONCACAF Champions League again and what the team learned from this year

“We have to win every tournament that we play in. When one plays in CONCACAF, a lot of people aren’t interested in that, but we are very interested. We have to win everything, every game, every final, whatever it is. We have to play to win. We have to enjoy what we did today. Dedicate it to everyone who suffers, our families, and now, we have to look ahead to our next game against Philadelphia.”

On overcoming adversity this season

“All changes are difficult, but who won today? Who’s in first place due to tiebreaker? You can never under-estimate the champion. Never. In soccer, in baseball, in boxing. We had a bad start, but we’re in first place. I think we’re in the more difficult conference, because in the other with 70 points, they already qualified and the other teams have 20. This is the tough conference. We try to be in the playoffs. Later, you have to play the games, and we will try to win."

On winning three finals at home and the magic of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

“Playing in this stadium is a dream. Every time I drive here, I get goosebumps. For me, playing here is the best thing that’s happened to me. I have to thank the fans. I love the people here. For me, this is the best stadium in the world. For me, the best city. Every time, I walk in the street, the people treat me with a lot of affection, and you can’t buy that. I always say it: you can’t buy that. I’m not leaving here until my time is up. But the affection the people show me, this team. I don’t think this city has another team. We’re the only team winning, and everyone has to respect us. We’re the champions here, and we need a little more respect.”

 

Minnesota United FC Head Coach Adrian Heath    

On how the match was lost

“We dug ourselves a whole with the two goals we conceded early, but I thought the attitude of the guys was immense at times. We said to them at half time, ‘can we go and get the next goal?’ If we do, we feel there is something for us. And we did. As the game wore on, it was more desperation for them. We started to use the ball better, circulated the ball well. As you look back over the 90 minutes, we probably had four or five really good chances. Disappointing. Can’t fault the guys for their effort. A little bit too little too late.”

On conceding two goals early

“As I said, we gave ourselves a huge whole to get ourselves out of, but I can’t fault the guys for the effort that they put in to try and get us back on level terms. We got the goal and I thought the initiative was with us. It was the first time we’ve come here and had as many chances as we had tonight. Even after they scored the goal, (Michael) Boxall has a free header from eight yards out, nine yards out and Mason (Toye) had a couple. You look at the second half and we had another three or four really good chances. Disappointed, but we move on.”

On adjustments made at halftime

“Not a lot really. Just said, ‘can we not turn the ball over cheaply in the midfield?’ Two or three of their best chances in the first half were cheap giveaways by us. I was pleased with the attitude of the guys. I thought the shape we used helped us. We just didn’t have enough quality at times in the final third.”

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