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Atlanta vs Columbus | Post-Match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew
  • Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: June 17, 2017
  • Final Score: ATL 3 - 1 CLB (Recap)


Gerardo Tata Martino (Head Coach)

When asked about apparent frustration about the defense in the first half, and his plan for improving at the back in the next few weeks:

“I think when you’re talking about a team, attacking or defending, it depends on the whole team, and not just a group of a few players and I think sometimes its important for us to press, because when we press, it helps us defend, but at other times I think we need to fall back because sometimes when you do press so hard, it puts our defenders in tough spots as well”

When asked on the large difference in play from the first to the second half and what he may have said at halftime to spark that change:

“I think Columbus played very well in the opening minutes and also the closing minutes of the first half, but in between the two goals I think you saw a strong Atlanta team. I thought we played well in between those two goals. I think its important for us to understand when we have to press and when we have to fall back just to have and understanding as a team and know in what moments to do so.”

When asked about two very close chances that Atlanta almost scored on but barely missed and whether or not the team may be suffering from a bit of “tightness”:

“You also have to take into account the opponent that you’re playing. Sometimes, like today when you play a good opponent like Columbus, they force you into making some mistakes so I think our mistakes today weren’t so bad on ourselves, I think it was because Columbus is a good team and they forced us into those but I thought that after Tito Villalba’s goal we relaxed a little bit and we settled into the game and that’s what allowed us to settle in and we started to play how we wanted to”

When asked if he had instructed his backline and his midfield to play more aggressively in this match as they appeared to be doing so:

“What we asked of our midfield was to play together, especially in that center of the field, because when they were able to play out of the back and have time on the ball then they were able to pick out some good passes especially to beat Jeff [Larentowicz] and [Justin] Meram was making some diagonal runs and so what we asked was for Carmona, when the team wasn’t pressing we asked him to drop back and to help close up that space that they were looking for in behind Jeff’

When asked if he was happy after this win:

“Today? Yes”

When asked about how important it was to get the rest for players such as Miguel Almiron Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel who had been coming recently from long matches in a compressed schedule:

“Its always important to try and give your guys as many minutes off as possible when you have so many games coming up. Today the game was difficult though, but we tried to do our best. But the one player who deserved some minutes of rest was Jeff because he played the full game the other night [Wednesday] and he played today, but we weren’t able to take him off the field tonight.”

When asked if he had thought about who he could put in the place of the suspended Carlos Carmona for the upcoming match against D.C. United:

“No, (laughing) tomorrow, tomorrow.”

“So does that mean Jeff will have to start?

*Nods head yes*

When asked about the return of Josef Martinez to both the field and the scoresheet and how that looks going forward:

“Its all good news regarding Josef. He was able to play the entire game on Wednesday and he scored on Wednesday and then he was able to come in to play tonight and score, so it’s all good news. It was a welcome return because we’re a better team when we have our goal scorer.”

Josef Martinez (FWD - #7)

On differences between Serie A and MLS

“One thing my family always told me was, ‘changes are important, and they are good things.’ I’m happy to be here in Atlanta. I’m here with a group of guys who want to do something very important with this team. I appreciate all of the support of my teammates and I’m very happy to be here and proud to be a part of this club.”

On scoring in back-to-back matches

“I’m happy with scoring a goal today. After the goal that I scored I was a little emotional, especially because before I came on I heard all of the fans applauding me and chanting my name. I’m happy to get the goal tonight and I’m also happy for the work that my team is doing because we knew this was a really important game, especially with all of these games coming up. It was important to get three points at home and hopefully we can keep this streak going. Not just me, but the whole team.”

On getting healthy

“It was difficult. Before that first game in Seattle, I had never been through anything like that before where I was watching the game on TV and my teammates are playing there without me. It was hard and I even told the players in the talk before that game. It’s difficult being out because you want to be out there with your teammates and you want to be out there helping. But I was able to do all of my rehab with the help of Mario, our athletic trainer, and with the help of the coaching staff and some of my teammates. The most important thing is that we won tonight and we want to keep this momentum going.”

Miguel Almirón (MF - #10)

On his goal

“In the first half we had some chances that we weren’t able to convert, but in the second half I was a little fortunate on that play. It’s not like I tried to perfectly place it in that spot. I was a little lucky, but I was happy for it to go in and happy to help my teammates.”

On designated players’ performances

“I don’t like the word designated player because I think all of us as teammates are equals. I’m happy with the work that myself, Josef and Tito are doing because we work really hard every week in practice to help the team moving forward. Our other teammates are working just as hard as well. All of our teammates show up to practice two hours early and that’s really important for our group to have that commitment. We want to keep this streak going. Everyone knows we have a great coach with a winning past, and we also want to work hard to achieve good things this season.”

Jeff Larentowicz (MF - #18)

On the importance of consecutive wins for the team’s confidence:

“This is a month where we have a lot of games very quickly. If you win them, you can get on a roll. It was important for us in the league to come out and win tonight and we did that. Obviously, Wednesday is one game in five to win a championship so it was a good four or five days for us.”

On starting off slowly tonight and bouncing back after a couple Alec Kann saves:

“Well, I think we didn’t give them as much space in behind. I think early on they were getting in behind. Ethan Finlay was cutting in from our left side [and] their right and getting chances, but Alec [Kann] was big. It’s the way he’s been all year. He made the save that kept us in the game and got us going.”

On maintaining consistency defensively moving forward:

“Well, like I said the more you play and the more you play well the more confidence you get. Obviously, each team presents different challenges. Tonight was a difficult one because they are a very good attacking team, but it seems like it’s the same group back there. It’s just about doing it over and over and over again. To have Alec [Kann] back there is really important for us.”

On his characterization of the team’s pressure tonight versus the last time they played Columbus:

“Yeah, I think it was maybe one of our first games. Things changed obviously since then in terms of how we press and then five or six months of work will tighten things up a bit. Tonight, I think it was good to see the first goal created from pressure. I think the third goal with Kevin [Kratz] was created with pressure and that’s what we look to do.”

Greg Garza (D - #4)

On playing more aggressively on the back line being a focus:

“No, I think we all knew we had to bring up the intensity against in my opinion one of the toughest teams in the MLS. Probably one of the teams that plays the best football in the league. I think we knew we had to be as concentrated as possible and especially the back line.”

On the support from the fans at home game in and game out:

“What else can you ask for, man? Completely full stadium. Everybody cheering A-T-L the whole entire time. Can’t ask for much more.”

On strengthening the defense moving forward:

“I think we did a pretty good job today. As I said, we definitely knew we had to be very aggressive against the team that plays [some of] the best football in this league. We won the game, but still have a long way to go. We have to turn the page as quickly as possible and get ourselves ready for D.C. in the next three days.”

On Josef Martinez delivering in front of a raucous environment:

“Yeah, for sure. At the end of the game, I think he was a bit in tears. It’s been tough on him. I’ve been there before as well. For a few months, you think the world is coming to an end, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I think that for him to do that today probably caused some confidence to come back and he can do even better things for us in the future.”

Michael Parkhurst (D - #3)

On whether this was a bittersweet win against his former team:

“It was a fantastic win. Every win in this league is important and especially our home games. We know that. We talked about this being a very important week for us [with] three MLS games in a week. We have a real chance to push ourselves up the table with a few wins. [I’m] very pleased to start the week with three points and now we turn our focus quickly to D.C.”

On overcoming some passing miscues early in the match:

“Yeah, myself particularly passing wasn’t sharp tonight especially in the first half. It becomes a little contagious. Credit to Columbus for making it difficult for us. They dropped back and were very compact. They made it difficult for us to play through the lines. We just wanted to be patient. Make passes, connect passes and get the confidence back up. We were able to do that and to get to the half 1-1 was probably good for us since they had a couple good chances. In the second half, we were much tidier and very good on the counter attack.”

On what he saw on the play that led to Columbus’ lone goal:

“It was a good ball in behind. He got on a good side of me and I was just able to get a touch on it. When I pop up, [Federico] Higuain is there, but I had a chance to make a second play and wasn’t able to do so. It was a little bit of an unlucky bounce, but we need to be better.”

On the team perhaps being too patient at times in possession:

“No, we definitely want to keep the ball and have good possession. We want to stretch teams. We want teams to come out. When we are patient with it, the other team gets impatient and tends to push numbers. That gives us a little more space. We just have to recognize it, be sharp with the ball and be able to play out of those situations. At times tonight we just weren’t able to do so. We were able to play the ball over the top a couple times for [Hector Villalba] and gain some possession higher up the field. Maybe we should have done it more often given that we had some success with it.”

Tito Villalba (FWD - #15)

On his goal

“I think we worked a lot in practice this week on intensity and pressure, Yamil did that really well, it’s a strength of his, and all the credit on my goal goes to him.”

On the team’s confidence level

“It’s good, the truth is very good. We work every day looking forward the next match, and we have another important game in a few days.”

On designated players scoring all the goals tonight

“No, not at all. But I think we’re obligated to help carry the team when things aren’t going well.”

On the team with Josef Martinez in the lineup

I think Josef is fundamental for the team for what he is. I think everyone saw that today. He came on, and the first ball that he had near goal he scored.


Gregg Berhalter (Head Coach)

Thoughts on the game

“We have work to do. I would like to see us to get back to our game and who we are as a team. We are an attacking team, we are an aggressive team, we create a lot of chances, we are smart players, we are good on the ball and I just didn’t see that enough tonight.”

On the team’s response to first Atlanta goal

“After the first goal we actually got back into and we were able to score ourselves. I thought we were doing a decent job, but we didn’t make them work enough defensively. We made it too easy for them, we gave them the ball too easily. We knew they were going to be dangerous on the counter attack and that was going to be a key defensive element. We let up the second goal on a counter and I think we should have done better in that situation.

On Columbus’ depth

“That’s a good question. The goals have been coming from three guys. We think we have other guys, it’s just about getting them confident. We believe in the players, we think they are good players, but it is getting them confident. We need to think about supplementing that group, then we’ll look to do that but they are good players.”

On atmosphere in Atlanta

“I think it’s great. The fans get to see this type of atmosphere, it’s exciting, its charged with energy, it’s electric and it’s something that when you come to the stadium and you watch the game, it’s easy to have a really good time. That’s what we’re trying to do with soccer. Put an attractive product on the field and entertain the fans.”

Ola Kamara (FWD - #11)

On atmosphere in Atlanta and Columbus’ performance

“I thought the atmosphere was very good. I feel in the first half we were there. They score, then we come back into the game and we did that well. We’re battling the whole way but then they get the advantage and we can’t create enough to score ourselves.”

On assisting Columbus’ goal

“I could see that Harrison [Afful] was going to cross the ball and I ran into the space that I thought was dangerous. I went to the ball then Pipa [Federico Higuain] has a calm and composed finish.”

On creating chances

I think we created a decent amount. I think we had four or five chances, in a way that should be ok. But when you’re down 3-1 that is not enough so there’s a lot of disappointed guys in the locker room today.

Harrison Afful (D - #25)

Thoughts on the match

“It’s very tough. You are very disappointed. We know we made a mistake in the first half but we were able to equalize so we just have to keep going.”

On Columbus’ goal

“Before the game yesterday we had a team meeting and Gregg talked to us about putting the ball in the box quickly. That resulted in the equalizer.”

On defending Atlanta’s counter attacks

“They are very good about attacking in transition. They had one and then we scored, but I also think we did a great job. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get the three points. We just have to go back and make sure we make corrections.”