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ATL vs CLB | 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 Columbus Crew GK Zack Steffen:

“I think that he had a good game and Columbus also had their chances. But tonight, sometimes that is how these games go. It is a little unfair that we finished fairly well this season, and tonight finishing was an issue. Some of the chances that we usually convert, tonight we didn’t finish.”

On Columbus’ performance:

“Columbus played almost the exact same way they have played all season. They played the same way that they did in the two regular season games against us. Even though we won both of those games, both of those were very even games, I thought. I think that it was the same case tonight. It was a very even game and I think that we deserved a little bit more with the chances, but it was an even game.”

On practicing penalty kicks in training:

“To be honest, I have to say no, we didn’t talk about penalties. I think we had the expectations that if it went to penalties we would be able to take them, but as I said the other day in training it’s really tough to recreate those pressure situations in games.”

On ‘not being able to finish drives’:

“Columbus had their chances and so did we, but I think over the course of the game - even though it was fairly even - we had more favorable chances than they did.”

On Josef coming out of the game:

“For me (Josef Martinez) played a great game. He was very close on a few chances. The change was strictly for physical reasons. I thought he looked very tired. All of the changes we made were because I thought the players looked tired, with the exception of the first change when we put in Parkhurst for Yamil (Asad). And the reason we did that was because I thought we were losing the battle in the midfield a little bit. I thought Julian (Gressel) was playing very well so we made the change to put in Parkhurst and move Jeff (Larentowicz) up into midfield and Julian up and then Miguel (Almiron) could play up top with Josef.”

On deciding the order of the penalty kicks:

“I talked to the guys one-by-one about how they wanted to take the penalties and to see if any of the players had a preference on the order that they would like to kick. Miguel asked me to take the fifth one. Julian asked me to go first. Leandro and Jeff said the order didn’t matter. So between the preference of the players and me talking with them, we chose the order.”

On if the season was a success given tonight’s outcome:

“I think it was a good season. I can’t deny that it was a good season because we started from nothing. But once we formed the team that we did with the players we had, that’s all we can classify it as: a good season. Because once we had the players and all the talks we had amongst ourselves in the locker room, this team wanted to go a lot further.”

On a message for the fan base:

“More than a message, I want to say a profound thank you for all of the fans. Starting from when we didn’t even have any players, the support has been there all year. From when we didn’t have players, to starting to play at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and then this new stage of the season at Mercedes-Benz Staium. So more than a message it’s just a thank you. Our commitment is that we’re going to continue to improve and get better.”

Michael Parkhurst - Atlanta United Defender

On if it that was the ‘cruelest way to end the season’:

“Yeah, it’s a cruel way. It’s crueler than the MLS Cup Final. It’s a tough way. I’m proud of the group. I’m proud to be the leader of this group – one of the leaders of this group. We worked hard all season. We had a very, very, very good season. We had a great run here at the end. We just came up a little short. We were right there. We had our chances throughout the game. I thought right there in the 94th minute/93rd minute we were going to steal it and get out of here, but it was a good game. It was even. Both teams had chances. You know it’s a crapshoot once you get into the penalties and we came up on the short end. So, now, we rest and regroup for next year.”

On if they practiced penalty kicks recently knowing that this might be a possibility:

“Not as a team. I saw a few guys take some penalties – here and there – on their own, but that was it.”

On how the first season in Atlanta went:

“It was a great first season. I’m going to look back on it with a lot of pride, a lot of joy (and) a lot of great memories. It’s just amazing to play in front of this crowd on a weekly basis or a biweekly basis. It’s really indescribable. The amount of support that we’ve gotten throughout the season has just been fantastic and we couldn’t ask for more from the city of Atlanta. The people, the support that we’ve gotten – it’s been incredible. That’s what we’re going to remember most that we built this fan-base. Hopefully, they’ll be back again next year and we can continue to keep building and building and make sure that we cement it for a long time.”

On the performances from both Atlanta United GK Brad Guzan and Columbus Crew GK Zack Steffen:

“Brad has been fantastic for us since he’s been here. It just seems like he’s playing with such confidence and so tough to beat. Just every game he seems to come up with a huge save for us. He came up with one in the first half. Zack Steffen was also very good tonight, unfortunately for us. Credit to both of those guys. They were on top of their game tonight. They made it very difficult for the strikers. Even in penalties, they both makes saves so hats off to both of them.”

On his clearance and saving a goal:

“Yeah, it was just being at the right place. I saw that Harrison Afful had a good chance. I thought he was actually going to pass it across to somebody that was in the middle of the box. I had a little bit of time but with my bum knee I guess it was just a little awkward, but Brad (Guzan) has been there for us a lot this year, so I was happy I could be there for him for that one.”

On if this was a rough night:

“It’ll be more than a rough night. It’ll be a rough couple of weeks. It takes a while to get over it and to know that we were so close and had such a great opportunity playing in front of our fans tonight, to generate the chances that we did, it’s disappointing, but that’s the game of soccer. You battle, and you battle, but you just never know. Tonight, it just wasn’t meant to be for us. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t find the back of the net. When you can’t do that, you limit your chances to move on, and unfortunately, that’s what happened to us.”

On what the team needs to work on in the offseason:

“I don’t know. That’s a tough one for me to answer right now. Every offseason, there’s changes. There’ll be some new faces next year. It’s the way that MLS is. There’s a lot of options. I’m sure guys want to know pretty quickly if they’re going to be around next year or not. I’m hopeful that we can keep a good group here because we’ve put something special together this year and hopefully we can build off of it.”

Julian Gressel - Atlanta United midfielder

On how ‘tough’ this ending was:

“It is a pretty tough way to go out. I don’t really know what to say. It was a game that goes back and forth, you know? They have chances. We have chances. It’s kind-of both ways. Then to lose in penalty kicks, it’s just like you said, it’s disappointing. Yeah, I mean, that’s just how it goes sometimes, you know?”

On the performance of the Columbus Crew GK Zack Steffen tonight:

“He’s been playing really great lately. He made good saves in the game, and when it comes to penalties, we knew that he was a good keeper in penalties, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to score enough of those.”

On if the team practiced penalties this week and whether it was as a team or individually:

“I took some, yeah. It’s an individual thing. Everybody has a different routine in what they go through with the run-up and all of that. It’s more individual.”

On how the team will evaluate how ‘successful this first season’ was:

“It’s hard for me to say right now. It’s just disappointing right now, but the fans didn’t deserve for us to lose so early in the playoffs. I think they’re the Cup Champions when it comes to the fans. It’s unbelievable what they do. Today was even another notch louder than what it has been and it’s just like I said, it’s just disappointing right now and I’m sure once, one day we’ll look back and be like, ‘Alright, yeah, we did some good things in this first season with the club,’ but I think we all wanted more here, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get it.”

On if there were any moments in the game where he was sure the shot was going in but it didn’t happen:

“I thought (Hector Villalba) where he was offside actually but (Columbus Crew GK Zac Steffen) saves that as well. That was like right at the end, I think. You know, it’s just how it goes, like I said.”

On if he has offseason plans:

“I don’t really know. I didn’t expect it to end this soon to be honest. I didn’t make any plans. I’m going to go home to Germany over Christmas, but that’s really all I have for now.”

Brad Guzan - Atlanta United goalkeeper

On Columbus Crew GK Zack Steffen ‘being hot’ tonight:

“Zack made a few saves. To be honest, with the quality we have and with the players we have, I would have expected one of those to go in.”

On the intensity of the game going back and forth:

“We knew as the game went on it was going to open up. They are a team that obviously likes to attack and play good football and can pass the ball well — and us the same — so we knew it was only a matter of time before the game opened up and got stretched, and it was going to be end to end.”

On how the team bounces back:

“Losing on penalties is never easy. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the sport. We can’t let this take away from the sense of: we accomplished a lot in terms of a club and as a team. At the same time, inside this locker room, we had bigger goals than just making the playoffs. In that sense, we came up short. It’s never nice. It’s never easy. Again, that’s sports.”

On if he is ready for the offseason or if he is ready to get to work:

“For me, personally, it’s obviously been a long stretch but at the same time, I feel good. I feel when you’ve been playing in Europe for nine years you don’t really have an off-season in terms of international duties and what not. You take some time off to let your body recover and rest and what not, but at some point I will be itching to get back into training and get after it again.”

On how mentally exhausting it was to play 120 minutes:

“Again, I think you guys probably saw some tired legs out there and with tired legs comes tired minds. Whether it be mistakes in terms of passes or just little things that go on in a game, especially as the game goes later and later into extra time. But again, it’s never easy when you go to penalties, and we were on the wrong side of it today.”

Gregg Berhalter - Columbus Crew Head Coach

On how the team executed the gameplan:

“I think they did a good job. We knew how we could hurt them. We knew there was an opportunity. For us, it was about staying compact, staying organized and taking advantage of them when we had the ball. I think it was pretty good. I think the best part, for me, was the determination by the guys. The will, the will to win, the will to keep going. That was a tough game. Give Atlanta a ton of credit. We didn’t play a perfect game, and they just kept going and battling through any little mistake, any little thing we just kept going through. I’m proud of the guys for that.”

On how the team used composure tonight:

“That’s what it was. We didn’t get flustered. We hung in there. We showed good composure and again, we dealt with adversity. One of the messages before the game was play in the moment. Stick to the moment and we’ll be OK and they certainly did that.”

On GK Zack Steffen’s performance:

“We met with the production crew yesterday and they asked me, ‘What has been the most surprising thing this season so far?’ and I mentioned Zack. Just his poise, his calm and his performance, for being such a young player, is really special to see and today is no exception. I think he played a great game. He stayed calm. He was focused and then in the penalties, what can you say? He saved two. Another one hit the crossbar. It shows that he affected them.”

On the key to the team’s mental strength:

“I think, in the first 10 minutes of the game, I thought we were excellent. I think we controlled the game. That was just the start we needed. Take the crowd out of it a little bit. They are normally a high-flying team that likes to put you under pressure early, and we controlled that first 10 minutes. I think that set the tone for the match.”

On the team fighting through adversity:

“We spoke before earlier in the week about us re-purposing our goals and re-purposing our mission. Now, we want to do something for the fans – the fans of Columbus. Anyone with that emotion involved in soccer, and the history that the club has, we would love to go out and keep winning for the fans.”

Zack Steffen - Columbus Crew Goalkeeper

On his preparation for penalty kicks this week:

“I just had a good feeling about kind of where they’re going. Once you pick a side, you’ve just got to go all out. Fortunately, I was able to come up with one or two.”

On being ‘in the zone’ over the last week:

“I mean it’s been a long season. There’s been a lot of games, so each experience you learn and towards the end of the season, you kind of get in your form. Right now, I feel good and the guys in front of me are playing well. So, I’ve got to keep the team in the game.”

On the importance of saving the first penalty kick:

“I had a good feeling. I knew our guys were going to put them away. As long as I make one or two, it’s ours.”

On if his confidence grew with each save in the game:

“Yeah, it did. We wanted to shut that crowd up, and we did, so it felt good.”

 

Wil Trapp - Columbus Crew Midfielder

On if the focus was different at all:

“You know what to expect. It’s going to be raucous and crazy in there and they have an explosive and exciting team. I thought we did a really good job of just maintaining composure for the most part. Whatever was thrown at us, you always say, ‘weathering the storm,’ and I thought we did a great job of weathering every storm that came through. Ultimately, it comes down to a shootout and Zack (Steffen) makes a couple saves and we put a couple away and that’s the difference.”

On how much the team practiced penalties this week and if it was thought of as a possibility:

“It’s always a possibility as soon as the playoffs come around, so I think we had two or three trainings of guys trying it out. It’s always good to get practice, but in front of 67,000 people, it is a little bit different.”

On people counting the team out:

“We relish the idea of knocking people off. If you want to doubt us, if you want to not believe that we can come in and make some noise, then we will see what happens. I think for the most part, it is more of a motivation tactic than anything. Our group did an excellent job of rallying and fighting for each other.”

On GK Zack Steffen’s performance:

“Like I said, weathering the storm, composure, making the right passes out of the back and then obviously making saves. His development this year has been pretty fantastic.”

On playing a home match in the Eastern Conference Semifinals:

“We’re just excited to play in front of our home crowd. They deserve it and we are happy we can give it to them.”

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