ATL vs TOR | Post-match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Toronto FC
  • Location: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: October 22, 2017
  • Final Score: ATL 2-2 TOR (Recap | Highlights)

Gerardo "Tata" Martino - Atlanta United head coach

On how Toronto FC Forward Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick determined Atlanta’s playoff seeding

“I think the draw was fair. The way the game went and the two teams played I thought the draw was a fair result.”

On the impact that the other MLS games had on in-game decision making:

“We had to win the game and that’s what we tried to do, so none of the decisions that I made were impacted by those results.”

On if there was a better opponent to prepare for playoffs:

“It was good preparation because Toronto is the best team in the league, but at the same time, we wanted to win the game. That’s what we tried to do and I think we were very close. We had some chances.”

On whether Miguel Almiron was always in the gameplan and how he looked on the field:

“Yeah. The plan was half an hour. He felt good and that’s the most important thing that he is back getting some rhythm to get ready for Wednesday or Thursday, whenever we have to play.”

On if he will prepare the team differently for a match of this magnitude:

“No, because the first thing we have to do is to help the players recover as best as they can so that they arrive to the next game feeling as good as possible. We’ve played Columbus twice this season, so they know how we play. We know how they play. We do have the home-field advantage, but I think they are two pretty even teams. I don’t really believe in those magic preparations three days before a game. We’ve been playing the same way the whole season so I think that’s the way you have to look at it. We’ll go into the game doing the same thing we’ve been doing all season.”

On the previous matchups for Columbus:

“We’ve adapted well to the way the games against Columbus played out. The game in Columbus they made us play a way that fit their style for a better part of the game, and the same thing happened for periods in the game at home. So I think we adapted well to those situations and I think that made our team better.”

On the changes in formation tonight:

“We had to adapt today because of their two forwards and how talented they are – and even saying that those were the two players who scored the two goals. I think we had to change for them. Sometimes it’s not as important if the formation changes as long as the intentions of the team remain the same and that’s what we tried to do today. Although we might have played with a different back line, the intentions of the team remained the same.”

On injured players returning to the team for a playoff run:

“I think we’re heading into the playoffs in good shape. The only doubt would be if the fact that we played so many games in such a short time had an impact on us physically. I think if physically we are up to it, then football-speaking, we’re up to the challenge.”

Michael Parkhurst - Atlanta United defender

On if there was a ‘miscommunication’ between him and Brad Guzan on Altidore's goal:

“Yeah, it was. It was a good ball from behind. I thought Brad (Guzan) was going to come for it and he thought I was going to clear it. It ends up in a tough spot--where it is chest height-- and it's tough for me to figure out what to do with it. But i have to clear the danger before that  even occurs next time.”

On keeping (Sebastian) Giovinco in check and if there was a different mindset this game:

“We played three in the back to to try and neutralize the two guys up top. We wanted to play man-on-man with those guys and have the extra guy--we didn't want him to have space to check into midfield and create-- they're very good and they created some chances even with us trying to concentrate on them. They are just very, very good and give them credit for that free kick because it was fantastic. Overall I thought we did a decent job, but a couple things to clean up.”

On the upcoming match against Columbus:

“They play very good soccer. They build up out of the back – similar to us – and they create matchup problems and try and overload the sides. (Federico) Higuain, (Justin) Meram and (Ola) Kamara – that threesome – is very, very good. We just have to put them under pressure and get in behind them like we were.”

Brad Guzan - Atlanta United goalkeeper

On the goal from Toronto FC Forward Sebastian Giovinco:

“That was probably the only place that ends up going in but it’s why (Sebastian Giovinco) is obviously a world-class player. He’s got that ability.”

On hosting a playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“If we couldn’t finish second, it was important that we finished third or fourth and make sure that we play that play-in game and we play it here. We know the atmosphere. We created it here at Mercedes-Benz (Stadium) and we’re looking forward to it now. All of our attention, all of our focus and all of our energy from here on out goes into every game as it comes. We now wait to see if we play Wednesday or Thursday – whatever day it is. We’re going to be ready and we know the fans are going to be ready. We know they are going to create an absolute unbelievable atmosphere for us and for when Columbus (Crew) comes for whatever day the game is. It’s not going to be an easy place for them. It’s going to be hard and we’re going to be one hundred percent ready.”

On the team’s previous matchups vs. Columbus:

“It doesn't register at all. The playoffs are a completely different beast. Games are tighter. Games are a lot closer. The regular season goes out the window. Everyone starts at scratch and like I said, we’ll be ready come that first playoff game.”

On if will use his past experience to say something about the atmosphere and what the expectations will be like in the playoffs:

“I think there’s a few guys obviously that have experienced what the playoffs are about. Now, your mentality (and your focus) has to change a little bit. There’s no tomorrow. It’s all or nothing now. I think we’ve got a good group of young guys that understand that. They understand what these games are about. And so now, it’s now our job as a collective whole – as an entire unit, as a team, whatever you want to call it – to make sure from the first guy to the last guy that we’re all ready in terms of helping each other, pushing each other. For that 90 minutes against Columbus, nothing but three points is all we’re worried about.”

Jeff Larentowicz - Atlanta United defender

On hosting a playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“A home playoff game is huge. It was so tight at the end – points, games. It seemed like it could have swung either way. It was a tough game, but I think that we will feel good going into the playoffs, get a home game and we’ll be okay.”

On if there is a home-field advantage for a playoff game:

“Without a doubt. It gives you a lift. You can tell. Even when we give up the goal, they get behind us. So, late in the game, it’s so important. They’ve been there all year.”

On the playoff game vs. Columbus:

“It’s a difficult game. Obviously, they have a playmaker that we always have to worry about. I think that they play a pretty similar style so it’s going to be difficult. I think that they like to do what we like to do, which makes it kind of a direct matchup but, again, we’re at home so I think that we will take the initiative.”

On what it will be like to play in a playoff atmosphere:

“I think the last two weeks have. Like I said, it’s so tight that everyone is playing for seeding. The points really meant a lot in the last two weeks. We’re playing good teams. We’re playing New York who’s in the playoffs. We’re playing Toronto, the Supporter Shield winner, and it’s just kind of how it goes. It’s good that we’ve played those games and now we can kind-of understand that feeling going into the playoffs.”

On the support from the city of Atlanta and the ‘fickleness’ of the fans:

“My relationship with Atlanta before January wasn’t much. I grew up a Philadelphia Phillies fan, so I knew about the (Atlanta) Braves. I didn’t know about the ‘fickleness’. I come from a tough sports town in Philadelphia so I kind of know what that is like, but it’s been great. They have been behind us from day one. I think that you speak about the players that we have and the excitement that they bring on the field and it makes you want to come to (Mercedes-Benz) Stadium and watch. I think that as we’ve grown, they’ve grown, and it’s all come together. I think that with the stadium and everything that has happened, it has been a perfect storm. It has been really exciting.”

Kevin Kratz - Atlanta United midfielder

On how they contained Toronto FC Forward Sebastian Giovinco throughout the game:

“There are a lot of players out there who are able to make a difference especially the guys in the back did a good job of keeping him away from shots. The free kick was just impressive, but overall I think we did a good job at home. (It was) a little bit unlucky that we didn’t get the win today.”

On hosting a playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It’s always good to play at home especially for us, in this stadium, with these fans, it’s very good to get a home game. I think that’s a little bit of an advantage for us but we still have to get our performance on the field to win and go to the next round.”

On what he remembers from the past matchups from Columbus:

“They play a good style. They try to play out the back. They have (Federico) Higuain and (Justin) Meram (and) some attacking players who are always dangerous. We did well against them so far and we just have to be prepared for that. Rest now, recover and then be ready for that game.”

On the team’s experience in the playoffs:

“Veterans have gone through that playoff system a couple times. I’ve only been there for Philadelphia (and) only for one game. It is going to be interesting. We know what is on the table so we will just have to get our performance up and hopefully, we can get into the next round.”

Greg Vanney - Toronto FC Coach

On earning the most points in a season in MLS history:

“We are proud of it. One of the things we said with this group is that we wanted to try to do something different, to try to be the best ever, maybe. You never really know how to define that until you just get going and you see how a season goes and you see what things you can accomplish. As far as the regular season goes, I think we’ve accomplished that. Now, obviously, we have a big task in front of us. Today was a great preparation match for what the playoffs are all about. It was a very good soccer match. Two good teams, very tactical in nature and it showed that they are a team if you give them a couple chances, they can make you pay and they certainly did. We hung in there. I thought we had some chances where we could get on top of them and we just weren’t able to get those and in the end, we had to stick with it, but I thought it was a good soccer game and I thought we played well.”

On if this match felt like a playoff game:

“It was intense. Obviously, for them, it was a match that with points they could have changed their profile in the standing. We knew it was going to be a challenge in that way. We also knew between their coach and the quality of their players it would be a tactical match, and it was a little bit of a chess match within all of it. Again, I thought it was two good teams, a very good match and hopefully fun for the spectators. I think it is good preparation for us as the playoffs are upon us tonight.”

On Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick that tied the match:

“What a free kick. It is kind-of fitting for him to polish off the regular season like that. It was phenomenal. I thought it was maybe a touch far for him to be able to beat Brad (Guzan), but if you pick out the upper corner like that with that kind of heat then you are going to beat anybody. It was fantastic.”

On Forward Jozy Altidore’s focus despite heckling from fans:

“I’m sure from Jozy’s perspective, he either blocked it out or it motivated him, one of the two. A motivated Jozy is a nightmare for any defender. Fans are allowed to be fans. I think it is nonsense if they truly believe that, but at the end of the day, they are here to ridicule and heckle and do everything that they can to the opposition to try and throw us off. I thought Jozy was fantastic tonight and a big reason that we were able to hold things up and play forward. I thought he was great.”

On if Atlanta United and his team are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference:

“It is possible. I think our styles always lend to exciting matches then it comes down to who executes when the plays are there. I think two good teams, that is what it should look like. I thought it was a great spectacle for the league. These are two good teams with a lot of firepower, a lot of speed, a lot of ability to combine and it was a really good game. I’m not in the business of saying who is the best, except for us. Aside from that, it is a very difficult Eastern Conference with a lot of teams able to beat a lot of teams.”

Jozy Altidore - Toronto FC Forward

On blocking out the noise from the crowd:

“I’ve been dealing with this since I was young. It is what it is. It’s not going away any time soon.”

On setting the MLS record for most points in a single season:

“It is definitely something, but at the end of it, there is only one thing we want. One thing on our minds and that is trying to get to the final again and winning it in Toronto.”

On Forward Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick goal:

“It’s 50-50 at that point. I tell guys, there is no need to go for the rebound. It is either going in or it is going out. There is no in between.”

On how tough of a task it was playing in Atlanta:

“I wouldn’t say it was a tough task. If anything, I think it was nice to come here and see what it is like so close to playoffs. I think some teams might have to play them early in the year and they don’t get to come here again, then they have to play them in the playoffs. To come here and see what it is like here, and see what they are like at home is actually an advantage for us.”

Michael Bradley - Toronto FC midfielder

On setting the MLS record for most points in a single season:

“We’re excited. It is something to be proud of. You have heard us all say it: we went after every game this season with everything we had. It would have been easy for us with the Supporters’ Shield in our back pocket already or with home field advantage already in our back pocket to keep guys at home or to come here and play in a casual way. We didn’t. We stepped on the field today against a good team in their stadium and tried to play, tried to win. In the end, over 34 games, we were the best team. We proved that time and time again and we are proud of that.

Now, it all starts over. Everything. Everybody starts at zero. Nobody is going to give us anything because we had a good regular season. Now it’s all about this little mini-tournament over the next six (or) seven weeks. We are going to use the week in a good way. We’ll watch these other games. We will prepare to play whoever and make sure when we get our chance when that whistle blows next, we are ready to go after it.”

On the atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“I thought as a team we played well. I thought for the day we had the better chances, the bigger chances. You give them credit because they are dangerous. The way that they play – every little ball that turns over can come right back down your throat quickly because of their speed and their mobility. They can cause real trouble. You certainly give them credit because they made some good plays in moments. We tweaked things around a little bit today. We felt like that was something that was going to be good for us, and I think we went after the game in a good way. We feel good about how we finished things and we’ll make sure that whoever it is in the playoffs, we are ready to go.”

On how Atlanta United plays:

“Their speed, their mobility, they look to play forward quickly. They are a team that tried to play out of the back, but it is not their end goal. They are not playing out of the back just to string together a million passes. They are (trying) to open up a little more space and then they’ve got certain movements that they look for. They have guys in the attack that run hard. (Hector) Villalba, (Josef) Martinez, (Yamil) Asad, (Miguel) Almiron – these guys are fast and hard-running – so when they get their chance, they are going to go. I thought in both games, our ability to put them on their heels was quite good. You have to deal with their attack in a good way, but if you can do that and start to put your own plays together, there are real opportunities on the other side. It’s a good team. Tata certainly has interesting ideas in the way that they go about it. I think you can clearly see his imprint on the team. They were two good games so we will see, maybe we will get two more.”