- Match: Atlanta United FC vs Philadelphia Union
- Location: Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia, PA
- Date: August 31, 2019
- Final Score: PHI 3-1 ATL (Recap | Highlights)
Head Coach Frank de Boer
On his plan for tonight’s match . . .
I think we had a great plan, maybe of course maybe because we were a little bit tired after the match against Minnesota [United FC], I think we did well. [Philadelphia Union] didn’t create, only with the throw in they hit the crossbar, but for the rest I think it was no problem at all. At the end we made 1-0, with a chance to make it 2-0. Then maybe it gives us a boost and then mentally they go down and when it’s 1-0 they still believe, then they get the equalizer. Our back three were standing very deep.
On playing Jeff Larentowicz instead of Florentin Pogba . . .
Normally they always playing attack, so we want to really trust them and then if they play with a diamond with two strikers then we have room to play in the midfield.
On still having a chance to finish in first place . . .
I think New York [City FC] is an important decision. We have to wait, they have the best possibility to be on top. We have one game less than Philly we can still be on top if we win that game. I have confidence that we will do after our two week break.
On if Ezequiel Barco will join the Argentina squad with an injury . . .
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
On his thoughts after the match . . .
Yeah, of course we are disappointed ultimately we weren’t good enough on the night. You know for one reason or another, it wasn’t good enough. You can talk about all of different things, but every single time we step out on the pitch; we expect to put in a performance that allows us to have us win the game. Tonight we didn’t do that for a long enough time.
On his team having tired legs . . .
I think it’s clear to see that guys were carrying some heavy legs, but again you know it’s not an excuse. We stand up to it, we own it. [Philadelphia Union] are a good team, don’t take anything away from them, they’ve got good players. This was always going to be a tough game, regardless of our schedule leading to it. We now need to make sure we recover, and rest up mentally and physically the final push of the last few regular season games we come with good results.
Midfielder Emerson Hyndman
On keeping focused . . .
We knew it would be a tough game coming into it. I think we started it off quite positively. We wanted to press him like we do everywhere else. We wanted to put our authority on the game and obviously it’s a tough place to come, but we got ahead and I think we had some tired legs out there toward the end, we had a lot of games like you said. We’ll take a good break and reevaluate and look at the game and come back better.
On being off next week . . .
We have some training, that’s what I know.
On being a starter in this match . . .
It’s always the job of anyone on the team to step in. The plan recently is to step in, contribute, and try to make a difference. Obviously sometimes it can be tough, especially at a good away side like this, but I think everyone did their part, it just wasn’t our night.
On missing an opportunity . . .
All I know is that I felt like I struck it well. By the time I looked up the keeper saved it. That’s all I can say about it, but hopefully the next one goes in.
On how to bounce back from this result . . .
We had a good run of games before it, so we know we’re a good side. We might have had some tired legs out there towards the end. It’s normal with the stretch we had so we’ll look at the game and come back better, especially after the break when we have time and a chance to work on everything.
On his team’s tired legs . . .
Mistakes happen throughout the game, that’s kind of part of it. Obviously towards the end we conceded a third goal things like that, sometimes switched off when we normally wouldn’t have. Things like that normally don’t happen, but I think that’s just due to, like coach said, the tired legs and that’s not normal. I think that’s the stretch of games we had, we had a really good run, a lot of good wins, a lot of tough wins, so I think that was kind of what you saw at the end.
Head Coach Jim Curtin
Opening Statement . . .
I guess it's appropriate as the fireworks are going off, a thank you to all the fans tonight; Keystone State Ultras, Sons of Ben, everybody that made this place special tonight. I thought [Atlanta United] really pushed us on again. Obviously conceding at the end of the half is always deflating, but these players deserve all the credit. They showed a ton of heart. Every bit of adversity, every new challenge that we've had this year they found a way to raise their level and they leave everything on the field. It's a fun team to watch and this stadium, Talen Energy [Stadium], has become the place to be in September and October. We’re playing tough games here. That's a great Atlanta team. Full credit to our players for all the work they put in, created a lot of chances, went toe to toe with the league champions and came out on top. I’m a proud coach right now. I'd like to thank all the players for their effort and everything they gave tonight. We knew were going into a break, with the national teams, we have eight players that will be going on, but I think we made a pretty big statement about what the Philadelphia Union is all about. Tonight, you have Homegrowns out on the field dominating, you have our veterans leading us and carrying the weight without our captain on the field. So overall a great performance, something to really build on. It's important that we don't get too high or too low, but we recognize now that it's a great three points. We've set ourselves up well now to host a home playoff game at this point and now we will have a real test. I talked to you guys early on in the season, when you asked how good we were, I said I’d circle the Atlanta and the [Los Angeles Football Club] game to tell us because those are the two best teams. New York City [FC] as well, we have them coming in and then we’ll see what we're all about, but as far as the first big test, we get an A+.
On what this win says to the rest of the league . . .
My players are fearless. They're not scared. I think we respect teams, but we don't fear anybody. Maybe a little bit of it is they are 18 and 19 year olds out there, 20 year olds out there doing their thing. Look, Atlanta is special too. You saw on their goal, there is nothing really we could do about that but tip our cap and say that's a hell of a one-two at the top of the box. Again, a lot of people probably did not expect us to get three points tonight, but again it's an opponent that just won a [Lamar Hunt U.S.] Open Cup final, had probably a little fatigue in their legs, it's a great team. I do have to say though, we played very well. I won’t say outplayed them, because I hate when coaches say that, but I think the score was indicative of the performance of our group.
On Brenden Aaronson’s performance . . .
Look, he's a kid that has a great engine. Even if he makes a mistake, he gets on with the next play. His ability now to pick up balls and turn in tough spots, Jeff Larentowicz is obviously smart and experienced and knows to be very physical with him. Brenden [Aaronson] did a good job of drawing Jeff into some difficult spots and we found some space in behind, especially in the second half as it went on. Overall, Brenden had a great performance. It's great for him to hit the back of the net, cause I always talk to you guys, that's the one thing from thirty yards in, that we really want to work on and add to his game. It'll build confidence. I'll have to watch it back, I think he could have just slipped it to Kacper [Przybylko] for an easier tap in, but it went in the net so you can't say anything. Proud of Brenden and all the players.
On Jack Elliott’s performance . . .
For a kid that’s the 77th pick from West Virginia, an English kid, those are three things that you wouldn't expect to lead to becoming one of the better center backs that our league has and I believe that. His ability to pass is second to none, out of that position. He has long legs so people think he's slow, but once he gets going, he opens up and can really run, our data shows us that. He had some high speeds. Great performance, a lot of last second deflections, blocks at the top of the box from him tonight and that's what you need when you have Pity Martinez and Josef [Martinez] just combining little one-twos, it's not easy, especially for guys with long legs. He did a great job tonight, I'm really proud of his performance.
On the attitude of his team after giving up the goal right before halftime . . .
It was a moment to be positive. Everybody was disappointed we gave up a goal, but if you look back on that first half, Marco [Fabian] hits the bar, Kacper [Przybylko] hits the post, Fafa [Picault] has a one-on-one with Brad [Guzan] where he maybe could elevate a little quicker. So we had chances, so that gave them life, and we didn't pass the ball particularly well, to be honest in the first half. We were sloppy, the field was bumpy, and we couldn't connect that final ball. I thought we got out in transition really, really well, we were on full sprints, some three-on-three's like we like to get into, but then made the wrong decision on the final pass about five or six times. We could have slipped guys in a little better. Overall, yeah, it was deflating to give up the goal, as it always is before half, but at the same time we gave encouragement. There was belief in the group that we could go toe-to-toe with them. You don't want to get into a track meet with them, because they will win that, but in a disciplined way could we be the team now to raise the bar in the second half and the players really stepped up and did that.
On Sergio Santos’ performance . . .
Look Sergio [Santos] has been fighting to get back off of injury. You can see how explosive he is, how fast he is and he is just a guy that defender don’t like to play against, especially when he comes in with fresh legs. Really happy for him, because it is frustrating when you're injured and you're battling little things. You're in for a month, then you're out for two weeks, and that's kind of how his season has been, its stop and start. We saw a lot of emotions come out on the cut back ball that he gives Kacper, which is a great ball, which we talked about all week. So, maybe he's actually listening, I know he doesn't fully understand English, but I think he's listening and he's learning. Then to score a special goal at the end to kind of ice it was good. Proud of him, proud of the work he's done and he’s a big part of our team. As you can see guys, we have 28 players on the roster; every one of them that started the season has played in games and has contributed in a big way. From that sense, we’re a real team.
On the Sergio Santos substitution . . .
I'll just be open and tell you guys. Ilsinho, as of yesterday, was slotted to start, and was in the starting group. Warren Creavalle was on the bench, we picked up two little knocks and injuries in training, literally on one of the last couple plays of training yesterday for both of them. We made a change, I thought Fafa came in and gave us minutes, really looked to stretch the defense and worked his tail off for us and did a good job. When people say, it was a horrible sub or it was a great sub, I think sometimes things work out for coaches; it's really the players that make the difference when they step on the field. Sergio stepped on the field and did a great job for us tonight. He deserved the credit and really came in and left a good impact on the game. In terms of how we select, a lot goes on behind the scenes sometimes and you fall into some situations. I'm actually proud of Ilsinho for coming to me and telling me his leg didn't feel quite right. Which in past years, he would have gutted through it and maybe picked up a more severe injury. We’re growing as a group, were learning new things about ourselves, and I still don't think we have played our best ninety minutes yet, so that's a good thing.
On this current home stand compared to May’s home stand . . .
The atmosphere has been incredible. The environment has become special, obviously winning helps, it brings out the fans and it gives them something to cheer about when we’re scoring goals and playing attractive soccer. That helps out guys for sure. As you look at this home stand though, there is no easy games for sure. It's a really difficult one; D.C. [United], your rival, Atlanta, one of the top teams, LAFC coming in and then [New York City FC]. It's a difficult last stretch of home games, I think that's when you learn the most about your team and there is no better preparation for playoffs, than playing the best teams and these are the best teams in our league has. Maybe the Philadelphia Union can start to be talked about a little bit in that group for this season. Which is something our players have earned and deserved and I’m proud of them for that.
Forward Kacper Przybylko
On his goal . . .
First of all, I would like to thank all the supporters who came today because I still have goose bumps. What a support, we were losing 1-0 and they were supporting us the whole game and we deserve these three points. Amazing comeback of Sergio Santos and you know just finish it and just happy for the team.
On Sergio Santos entering tonight’s match . . .
That’s exactly what I said, it’s unlucky because he has a lot of quality and he’s very quick and very fast. Also like small injuries and it’s just as important that he’s stays healthy and I am just happy he came today and help us also get those three points.
On Sergio Santos’ assist . . .
I mean it was very clever that he passed the ball back because I think there were a lot of players in the box and it was a fantastic ball. I just wanted to shoot it in the short corner and hey, it was a goal.
On the locker room at halftime . . .
Exactly what coach said, we played a great half and it was only one chance that Atlanta [United] had. They scored the last goal, but we knew we could come back and just said we had to continue playing like the first half and we did it. We knew that Atlanta likes pressing in the first 30 minutes and they got tired and had off the game before. We fit, we all fit and I am very proud of the team, they work so hard and we just deserve these three points tonight.
Midfielder Haris Medunjanin
On Brenden Aaronson’s run for the first goal . . .
Yeah it was a good run. I always tell them just make a run, if I have the ball under control I will give you the ball and they made the run. Kacper [Przybylko] let him have that ball and he finished amazing. It was a good one-on-one. I think even the first half we had a couple of chances, a couple of times in the counter attack, three against two and just the last guys didn’t arrive to the right person, but you get this goal in the 44th, 45th minute, you get a little bit down over there. We said at halftime we can come back and we know that they are tired and we showed that we are a good team.
On noticing Atlanta United’s fatigue in the second half . . .
Yeah of course. I think after the 60th minute when we scored it was 1-1. After that we saw that they could not run anymore and we could find the free guy in the midfield. Almost every ball through the midfield was a chance for us. We could attack all the time and we showed that. I think we showed MLS that we are not an afraid team; you know we can play against everybody because nobody is counting on us. Everyone is against us so everybody thinks that we are lucky, that because they lose we are up, but we showed today that we can compete against any team, especially at home.
On Sergio Santos returning . . .
It’s good. He just needs to know what his qualities are. He just needs to run at the back line and that’s what he did. Every run behind the back line was dangerous. Sometimes he thinks he wants the ball at his feet, but that’s not his quality. You need to just run, make them tired and then the chances will come and that’s what he did. He is arriving at the box and he is fighting and he showed it. He scored a goal and had a great game, so we need that. We need everyone to step up. Today we didn’t have the captain [Alejandro Bedoya] with us and we need to step up and that’s what we did. We showed we have a lot of depth with this team.