• Match: D.C. United vs. Atlanta United
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: March 11th, 2018
  • Final Score: DC 1-3 ATL (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino

On switching to a 3-5-2 formation:

“It’s something that we’ve been looking at since preseason, even in the preseason match against Nashville we played it for a period in that match. It’s something that we thought was opportune today to try it. Because against Houston I thought we were lacking bodies in the midfield and the ability to recover the ball in the midfield. We thought it was a good chance to try it today and I think we did a good job for the first 75 minutes of the game and then we let off a little bit in the last 15.”

On how the team’s personnel suits a 3-5-2 formation:

“We wanted to get more bodies in the midfield. We wanted have Tito (Villalba) up front and Miguel (Almiron), Jeff (Larentowicz) and (Darlington) Nagbe closing down the midfield – and three centerbacks. We have to remember we lost a key piece of that partnership that we had last year with Carmona and Larentowicz so we tried to fill that void with the formation.”

On how the Mercedes-Benz moto, “The Best or Nothing” relates to this club’s mentality:

“I think the message is to continuously try and be better every day. In this club in general, we’re striving for excellence so we’re looking for excellence from the directors, from the coaches, from the players we sign, to how the team plays.”

On the importance of commitment before the match:

“That (commitment) was important, and it was important and interesting to see the response that we got from the team because we knew that was going to be important coming off the game against Houston where we made a lot of mistakes. We talked about how most of their goals – or all of their goals – from last week came from individual mistakes so we wanted to see the guys play with motivation today, and I think they did that. And credit to them because they did it in a new formation.”

On Darlington Nagbe’s first two games with Atlanta:

“He improved in this game. The game last week against Houston I thought he was a little uncomfortable but today I thought he played very well. We’re trying to get him and Franco (Escobar) and the new pieces involved but today I think he showed that last week the level from the team was low, but tonight we played well.”

On whether experimenting with the formation gave players the ability to be more aggressive:

“I think we played it well today, and it gave us more security at times. I’m not saying that we’re going to play that way every game – the team is capable of playing both systems. We thought it was a good chance to try it today, but if you ask me, I would prefer that we play the way we did tonight in the first half. With this formation we were able to control the game and make more chances.”

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez

On the attendance record of 72,000:

“I just want to say thank you to everybody for coming today and for the support. That is important for us.”

On today’s match:

“I think the team, after the game we had in Houston, the team picked itself up. Coming off a 4-0 loss and now playing at home we had to forget everything that happened. I think we had a very good first half. We started the second half a little asleep but the important thing is that we won and the three points stayed at home.”

On the change in level of the team:

“I think part of that has to do with them (opponents). The league is just getting started. We can’t say that we’re 100 percent yet but we can’t say that we’re bad, because all teams lose. Obviously, there are things to correct. Now we have to think about the game on Saturday which is the most important thing now.”

On the difference in today’s game versus the last game:

“It’s very tough to say what we did or didn’t do. The most important things is that we won. The important thing was the people who came to support us. The effort that every teammate put in take on the game.”

On the 72,000 fans:

“Next game we hope to see 73,000. We thank them because the support is always important , but we don’t want to stick with 72,000, we want 73,000.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On the biggest difference between last week’s and this week’s performances:

“I think it was the intensity that we brought. I think last week was like we were half asleep. One thing we wanted to focus on was just really getting that commitment. That was the word on the board, committing ourselves, playing with conviction, doing the things we do best. It seemed like last week we were second guessing ourselves so this week we wanted to put that away.”

On if the formation change helped:

“The formation switch was a tactical choice by the coach. The guys on the field just go out there and do their job and try to win their battles.”

On if he felt more comfortable returning to his usual Holding Midfield position:

“Yeah, I mean its two-fold, right? You get your captain back there in the back and certainly last year I played a majority of the time in the midfield so, there is definitely a comfort level there, but overall just happy to help the team win, because that’s what we want to do.”

On the fans setting another attendance record today:

“I said it to someone just now, when the second goal goes in, and you look at them, you can really see it. The crowd’s incredible. It’s always good to be in front of them and to continue to break records is really astonishing for us.”

Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón

On the biggest difference between last week and this week:

“I think we had patience. We knew how to take control of the game and, thanks to God, we were able to find the goal quickly.”

On his opinion on the match as a whole:

“It was an important victory. I think the team showed what we’ve been working on in training. Last week the only thing missing was goals and tonight we were able to get an important victory and even more importantly, at home.”

On why he spends a good bit of time interacting with fans:

“I think that the fans deserve that for the support that they give us every game.”

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar

On whether or not he felt more comfortable today playing in a formation with three Central Defenders:

“Maybe, but also tonight playing at home made a difference. I’m comfortable playing in a backline of three or a backline of five but tonight we felt good.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On the difference between last game and this game:

“Well first and foremost: our energy was much better today. Our energy, our ability to win first balls, second balls, tackles, the dirty work, if you will. That allowed us to go and play good football at times. You need to have that base, especially in this league. There’s so many players and teams that are athletic and if you don’t bring it physically, then regardless of how good you are talent-wise, it’s not going to be able to show.”

On the return of defender and captain Michael Parkhurst after his lesser minutes last match:

“Yeah, Parky is a big player for us. He’s our captain and a big player for us. He reads the game well, he sniffs out danger before it turns into a big problem and that’s important for us.”

On how it is to play in front of another record-setting crowd:

“it was huge. We knew we had to turn things around from last week and we knew we were going to need our supporters’ help for that in terms of creating an atmosphere that would be exciting for us to play in and pretty intimidating for other teams and specifically D.C. United to come in here. We wanted to make sure we got off to a good start and I think we did that in the first half for sure.”

On if he feels an advantage defending the goal in front of the supporters’ section:

“Listen, whether it’s that goal or the other goal, it’s the stadium in general. The atmosphere that our supporters create. Whether it be the die-hard supporter or whether it be the casual fan, if you will. I don’t think we really have a casual fan here, I think that everyone kind-of joins in the atmosphere in the singing and the chanting and that’s what makes it fun.”

Atlanta United midfielder Andrew Carleton

On his playing time:

“Hey, playing 20 seconds is better than zero so we have to start somewhere. I was happy to get out there. Coach has to do what coach has to do for the good of the team. I totally understand it and all, but I was happy to get in.”

On if Atlanta played with an extra edge:

“Playing at home I think we always have a little bit of an extra edge. I don’t think we changed too much, I think we played better overall. Last week we had chances to score and we made some mistakes in the back and we cleaned those things up. It wasn’t like we came out here and changed everything, I think we just played better overall.”

On if Atlanta’s formation change helped:

“I think it fit playing D.C. a little better. At home, we can push a few more numbers forward with wingbacks. Greg [Garza] and Julian [Gressel] did a good job at that. I think it hurt [D.C.] going from one side to the other side. So, I think it did some, but at the same time I think we just overall played better.”

On the crowd:

“We haven’t had a home game in a few months in between seasons. The crowd, I feel like it just gets better and better each time. Being on the field, it is even better than when you’re sitting on the outside looking at it. That was my first time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, being on the field level. It was an awesome experience.”

D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen

On how D.C. United handled crowd:

“I thought overall, we played ourselves into the game. In the second half, we looked much more comfortable. Of course, they had a lead at that point. Any time you are chasing them and you give up the first goal, it’s a real tough task because they are just so scary in transition If you aren’t perfect in the way you press, they will bite you. [Miguel] Almiron is one of the best I’ve ever seen in this league. They are a good team, don’t get me wrong, but he is special. He’s nasty and he makes them tick. Today he showed up and played very well.”

On Atlanta scoring two quick goals in the second half:

“In the first half of the second half, I saw some real quality from us. I thought we addressed some things at half time that weren’t there in the first half whether it was retaining possession the right way, not getting trapped on the sidelines, keeping the ball central, that kind of haunted us a little bit in the first half. We were playing into their hands, but once Ulises [Segura] and [Junior] Moreno started to get on the ball, the switch of Oniel [Fisher] and Nick [DeLeon], they were more comfortable after they switched sides, it was good. Again, we are a type of team that can strike very quickly if you are a little bit loose in between the lines. Almiron and some of their attackers will punish you and they come very quickly. They can put numbers up quick. We tried to fight our way back into it. We are a good team. I really like the makeup of our team and I think we will respond. We understand that this is a long first half of the year and we are not going to get a result in every road venue. This is a tough one and we came up against a good team, and a very good player in Almiron.”

On if D.C. United has the firepower to produce victories:

“Yeah, we are scoring goals. I think we will be a tough team to score against. I think there’s some circumstances today that we shot ourselves in the foot and still could have made plays on their chances. To answer your question, do we have the fire power? Yeah, I think we will. We have consistently scored goals and created chances. We still had a few chances tonight and you are not going to get 20 looks on the road. You are going to have to be efficient, and there was one or two chances out there for us to get back in the game, but it wasn’t so.”

D.C. United forward Darren Mattocks

On D.C. United’s performance:

“Not good. We have to do a better job of trying to play. We have a bunch of games on the road, so as a team we have to figure something out. It’s a tough league, especially when you play on the road and you try your best to get a result. For the first half of the season, we have all away games, so we have to figure something out because right now no one should be satisfied with the way we played. The effort was there for sure, 100 percent from everyone, but we still have to find a way to play on the road.”

On D.C. United’s adjustments heading into next match:

“We have to do what the last two teams have done to us. Keep the ball, create chances, be dangerous. It’s good to get a game in D.C., so hopefully we go and get three points, because that is maybe our only home game for the first half of the season. We have to go and get three points.”

D.C. United defender Steven Birnbaum

On D.C. United’s performance:

“It’s tough. Obviously, [Atlanta] was on the front-foot for most of the game. That goal in the first half kind of hurt us. I thought we came out in the second half and looked pretty good. Obviously, [Miguel] Almiron had a great goal, which that was a bit of a stinger, they we were on our backfoot for a while. It’s tough. We have a lot to work on, still trying to gel as a group, but we just have to be better on both sides of the ball. We have to take better care of the ball everywhere and we can’t let them into the 18 too easy.”

On Atlanta’s two quick goals in the second half:

“That first goal hurt. I guess it deflated us a little bit, and then we can’t give up a set-piece goal like that right after. We have to turn back on, focus and make sure we get through the end of the game without conceding another goal, especially that quick together.”

On D.C. United’s adjustments heading into next match:

“We have a lot to fix. It will be good for us to not travel for a weekend, get our bearings straight and then we want to get a win. We need a win, especially at home, because we have another long road ahead of us.”