ATL v PHI | Post-match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Philadelphia Union
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta Georgia.
  • Date: September 27, 2017
  • Final Score: ATL 3-0 PHI (Recap | Highlights)

Gerardo "Tata" Martino - Atlanta United head coach

On if he thought this team could make the playoffs:

“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t one of the expectations for the season because we have really good players and I knew the type of players that we were going to be bringing in. In Bradenton, we started to work together towards that goal. I don’t think it’s fair to use the excuse, ‘Only a few teams have made the playoffs as an expansion team.’ We knew the kind-of players we were bringing in.”

On whether he will push the team to reach the second seed or if he’s going to rest players:

“We’re going to try and go for that second spot. Now, that we’re third, we’re in a position to reach another one of those goals, to be third or fourth and have a home game in the first round. But now that we’re there we’re going to try and go for that second spot. With New York City winning tonight, they’re ahead but we have a game in hand.”

On how he feels about the team’s play without Miguel Almiron:

“Independent of the win tonight, we know that not having Miguel is a big absence for our team, but I think I’m happy with how we played tonight. We played really well in the first half. We were able to control the game and in the second half – for the first twenty minutes or so – you could notice a little bit our fatigue so we decided to put in Greg (Garza) to form two lines of four with Josef Martinez and Tito Villalba and change our formation from how we usually play.”

On if Julian Gressel should win the MLS Rookie of the Year Award:

“He totally deserves it. I thought he played an excellent game tonight. Not just by looking at what he did on the field, but you have to understand what we ask of him as a coaching staff. Today, he did everything exactly how we asked him. I think looking at all of the players who are in their first season of the MLS that he definitely deserves the award.”

On who receives credit for players succeeding in unfamiliar roles:

“I’m a fan of the players and I have always been like that – even when I was playing. As a player, I wanted the credit, and as a coach, I feel the same way. My thinking hasn’t changed. It is still the player’s credit and I don’t want to take any credit from them, but we have also been playing really well and confidently, so, it is a more natural move for some of these guys.”

Julian Gressel - Atlanta United midfielder

On if that was a ‘pretty good birthday gift’ for Owner Arthur Blank:

“That’s right. I think he’s very happy. What the fans do out there is unbelievable and I’m sure Arthur (Blank) loves that more than anything else.”

On making the playoffs as an expansion team:

“We said it tonight: we wanted it to be in our hands. We wanted to clinch it today (and not look) at other teams. We did that and took care of business ourselves. Now, we’re in the playoffs. Now, we — maybe, yeah — can push for that second place in the East and try and get a bye and obviously get a home game in the second round.”

On playing in place of Miguel Almiron:

“It was just playing within the game. I kind-of knew what Tata wanted from me in that role. Obviously, I’ve been watching Miguel a lot over there. Obviously, I try to pick up on some things that he does well. I still didn’t play my best game of the season, I think. I had some good moments and some not-so-good moments but overall, with the goal and the assist, I guess pretty productive on that score sheet.”

On if his goal celebration was for Atlanta or for the fans:

“Atlanta. I think what the fans do — Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays — it doesn’t matter, when it’s gameday, these guys show up. It’s a tribute to them and it’s a big thank you to them because it’s unbelievable.”

On moving into second in the record books for the MLS assist record and the possibility of breaking the record:

“Yeah, it would be a record, right? It would be kind-of cool I think. So, I guess I need two more to provide it to myself. It’s just another statistic out there. I’m happy to help the team in those kinds of ways and I’ll continue to try and do that and if it turns out to be a record in the end, then so be it, I’ll be happy with that.”

On the success the team has had as an expansion team:

“We never really saw ourselves as a team like ‘Let’s just see where it goes.’ From the first day on, we wanted to be in the playoffs. I think that shows the determination and togetherness that we have all towards that one goal that came true. We’ll see where we can go from here, maybe talking a little more records for expansion teams in the near future.”

Josef Martinez - Atlanta United striker

On when he decided that we would honor Miguel Almiron and whether he had done that before:

“Before the game started. Yes, with the national team, a game we played against Bolivia. It was my first game that I played with them, and I celebrated the same way for a teammate.”

On making the playoffs as an expansion team:

“Making the playoffs is really important. Winning is important. I think the team played really well tonight at home. Now, we have accomplished one of the goals that we set this season but we have to keep working hard because there is more to come.”

On if this team can win the MLS Cup:

“I don’t know. If I knew, I would tell you. In soccer, you never know, but we know we have to keep working hard. If we make the final, that would be great, but at the moment, we have to take it game by game.”

On why he honored Miguel Almiron with his goal celebration:

“On my 18 goals, he’s helped me on about half of them. He’s the most important player on our team. He’s really important for us and for me.”

On why he passed the ball for an assist:

“Sometimes, when a forward has the ball in the box he doesn’t even look to pass, but I don’t think I’m the first or the last to make a pass like that. I think what we have to do is keep working hard and keep up this brotherhood that we have on the field, and try to complete our next objective.”

Jeff Larentowicz - Atlanta United midfielder

On if he knows what makes Atlanta United different from other expansion teams that haven’t made the playoffs:

“We’re in the playoffs. No, I don’t know. We’ve been focusing on it all year. It’s been our goal. We’ve had ups and downs but I think that this stretch we really just pushed and got ourselves over the edge. It’s a huge accomplishment for us.”

On how Julian Gressel did in the place of Miguel Almiron:

“He scored a goal. He had an assist. He got the spike. He hugged Arthur. It was a good night. He did really well.”

On how the fans have exceeded expectations for this year:

“Yes, exceeded and then some. Every time we ask our administrator when he hands out tickets, “Is it a sell out?” and he says, “Yes,” and we are just amazed. Wednesday night – it doesn’t matter – it’s been outstanding. They have all been great.”

On the atmosphere in the locker room:

“I think every one is ready to hit a pillow somewhere. Its been a long stretch but you look at the schedule and you say, wow, we’ve got six home games in a row, that’s going to be great. It’s over now. We’ve gone 5-0-1. I think that we’re all pretty tired but I think we’ve all got something nice under our pillow after these games.”

Greg Garza - Atlanta United defender

On his performance:

“It felt good to be back. I’m glad we got the win to clinch playoffs but we have to think about the future now. The playoffs are a different animal so we’ve got to finish the league strong and hopefully be ready for the big playoff stretch.”

On what advice he gave to Miguel Almiron:

“Its just patience. This is Miguel’s first injury in his whole entire life. If I counted my injuries, I think that I’ve been out for about three years in my career but it’s just a lot of patience. I’m sure he has it. I gave him some tips just to go out and go to the mall, buy some stuff, just don’t stay at home. Hopefully, he can recuperate as quickly as possible”

On if points or rest more important this late in the season:

“Both. I think that we have a pretty deep team. I think Jake (Peterson) pretty much gave us an example of that, and Chris (McCann) has done super well with me being out so it shows that we have a pretty deep team for guys to do well in every position and then be there when we need them.”

Jim Curtin - Philadelphia Union head coach

On the match:

“We got outplayed by a better team tonight. Atlanta was sharp on the night from the opening whistle. They outplayed us thoroughly in the first half. One positive is we did have a good response in the second half. We had a couple opportunities, but weren’t able to put one past Brad (Guzan). Now, we have a quick turnaround. The good news is we have a chance to regroup and go again against Seattle and get the bad taste out of our mouth from a tough performance.”

On the team’s performance in the second half:

“Guys were a little more confident on the ball. Obviously, it is easier when you’re down 2-0 to be brave and be confident, but I thought they actually put together some passes, our pressing was a little better with more urgency. (In the) first half, we gave them too much time and space, maybe a little too much respect because they had been blowing teams out here and really outscoring them. They punished us because they have quality (players) on their team. Overall, we got outplayed by a better team tonight.”

On the atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It’s special. Obviously, on the field, their play speaks for itself. They are going to be very tough to beat in this building. Fans are amazing. You look at the stadium, it’s first-class all around. The way you are treated by people when you walk around the stadium – everything from top-to-bottom I would say very impressive. Again, now we have to regroup quickly against Seattle.”

Marcus Epps - Philadelphia Union midfielder

On tonight’s match:

“It’s a tough game. Guys fought well – just unlucky at the end of the night. Good work rate – just need to look on to the next game.”

On playing close to home in Mississippi:

“It’s great. The location – a lot of my family came out to see me. It’s not too far. It’s good with this atmosphere and this environment and to be around friends and family, it was a good experience.”

On the atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It’s something I’ve never seen before. I’ve never played in front of so many people. They were very loud and brought a lot of energy. It was a good experience and one I wouldn’t forget. When I was younger, I came to Atlanta a lot, and to see the same stuff when I was younger and to see the same passion and the same fan-base and for it to grow into the professional level is good to see.”

Warren Creavalle - Philadelphia Union midfielder

On playing in his hometown:

“From the standpoint of being a professional, it’s just another game. Obviously, looking back on it, it is special to play in your hometown, but for me, I had to have the approach that it was another game and a game that we needed to win.”

On the atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It was loud. It was very energetic. The crowd really gets behind the team and they feed off of that.”