ATL vs MTL | Post-Match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Montreal Impact
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: April 28th, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 4-1 MTL (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino                                           

On the decision to play Kevin Kratz:

“I put Kevin on because I thought we needed a little more order in the midfield, especially after taking Jeff (Larentowicz) off the field. Montreal was able to get a few counter attacks on us. We went back to having our original four guys at the back with Kevin helping in the midfield. However, Kratz is a specialist.”

On bringing on Tito Villalba at halftime:

“In the first half, we had an extra guy at the back line so we could have taken off one of the defenders, but I thought it was important to keep that line of three because (Ignacio) Piatti was playing as their forward. We didn’t want to leave him alone, so I thought the best move was to take Jeff (Larentowicz) off and leave Darlington (Nagbe) to play in midfield. I also thought we were getting a lot of service from the wings into the box, but we didn’t have enough guys in the area, so I thought bringing Tito on as a second forward was the best solution.”

On if anyone else should take free kicks other than Kevin Kratz:

"This is a conversation we had last year because on the biggest teams in the world, the biggest figures are the ones that want to take the free kicks. A lot of times they line up to take it and they don't recognize or cede to other specialists on the team, especially guys who come off the bench or young players. It’s not very common that the stars let that happen. Last year, we had a conversation with Yamil (Asad), Josef (Martinez), Kevin (Kratz) and Miguel (Almiron) about this, and I think it is important that everyone recognize this is a great strength of Kevin’s. I want to make it clear that I am speaking well about those guys. We had that conversation, but the players deserve the credit.”

On who decides who takes a free kick:

“We have strategic plays, but it depends on if someone is a specialist at free kicks or set pieces and it is important that when he is on the field, that the guys recognize it. The players ultimately decide. If that specialist isn’t on the field, then the players decide and it just comes down to different circumstances in the game. If they want a left-footed taker or a right-footed taker, things like that.”

On Franco Escobar will be available for 90 minutes going forward:

“The team is in good form. We have been playing well lately. It is always difficult when the team is playing well to make a switch, but you build a team at the beginning of the season thinking with the whole season in mind. At some points, you know you are going to be missing key players and other points in the year, you will have everyone available. Today, we had Sal Zizzo, Franco (Escobar), Tito (Villalba), who is a huge figure for this team, Brandon (Vazquez), Romario Williams and Kevin (Kratz) all on the bench today. We were missing (Andrew) Carleton today, but we have all these guys who are available to help us play.”

On Ezequiel Barco:

“I think he got better as the game went on today. He was able to find space and find passes to Miguel (Almiron) and Josef (Martinez), D (Darlington Nagbe) and Greg (Garza). I think it is important as he is getting more rhythm and more fitness he is just going to continue to improve, and he is going to keep getting better as he gets comfortable with his teammates.”

Atlanta United midfielder Kevin Kratz

On if he was going to ‘give up’ any of his free kicks in today’s match:

“Actually, no. The first one, I think it was against NYCFC, it was a little bit too close to the goal. I’m happy (that) I could get this one a little bit over the wall and down again and the second one, as well.”

On which free kick today was ‘easier’:

“I practice more often from the first spot – kind-of left of the goal, try to bend down over the wall and down as quick as possible to go under the crossbar. It turned out pretty good so far.”

On his ‘comfort range’ during free kicks:

“I think like five/six yards away from the box. That’s where I practice most of the time. The (free kick) last year and the second one (today) were a little bit far away, but, yeah, I am pretty confident when it (comes) to free kicks. (I’m) not saying that I hit all of them in, but these two today were pretty nice, and I’m really happy to help the team with these two goals.”

On if he knew his free kicks were going in the goal as soon as he hit them:

“Yeah, it’s like the one last year, too. Like once you hit it, and it goes off the foot, you look up, it’s getting over the wall, and it felt pretty good. I’m happy to help the team because we invested a lot today. We had to run at them all the time after (being down) 1-0. I think all of the guys did a great job to create chances (and) create these opportunities to score. We are all happy to win here at home.”

Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron

On his opinion of the game:

“It was a difficult game against a difficult opponent. They complicated things for us in the first half with a quick goal. They really closed down things for us in the first half. It was difficult for us to break through, but luckily in the second half, we were able to do it.”

On playing with Ezequiel Barco:

“I feel really good playing with him.”

On the conversation with him and Kevin Kratz over free kicks:

“Kevin is the one to take it. He is the best free kick taker on the team.”

On Tito Villalba and Franco Escobar returning to the game near the end of regulation:

“Obviously, that’s important for the team. Those are two really important pieces for our team. Two starters who unfortunately got hurt. It’s good to have them back.”

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco

On breaking down the defense:

“As I said, they are a team that scored an early goal and then practically their whole team sat back to defend, and we kept looking to find a goal. Luckily, we were able to find it, doing the movements that Tata asked of us.”

 On his mindset on breaking down teams like this:

“Just to try to get behind the defensive midfielders. They were really closed in this game. So, we were able to get off a lot of crosses which is what Tata was asking of us the second half.

On if him moving back into midfield helped open up the field:

“When Tito (Villalba) came on Tata asked me to move back a little bit to about the same level as Miguel (Almiron) that way we could work on controlling the midfield and be able to provide service to Julian (Gressel), Josef (Martinez) and Tito (Villalba) up top.”

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar

On how it feels to be back:

“I was really excited to get back and get some minutes. I was out in Los Angeles, but (I) didn’t get the opportunity, so I am happy I was able to come back to the team and get some minutes today. I was a little bit anxious because it was like going back to the first day of putting on this shirt for the first time. I was just really excited to get back out there and help the team.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On if the Montreal Impact took the team by surprise today:

“No. I thought we were – from a collective standpoint – poor on the goal. We were poor defensively. Between myself and the three defenders in the box, they had one guy in the box for the goal. We need to be able to deal with that better and deal with that situation, but we had a good response. We never panicked. We never veered away from our ability to play football, to pass the ball (and) move the ball. We still created chances. It was just a matter of when that first one was going to come to kind-of unlock things and force them to come out a little bit more, and then once we got the first one, obviously we all know what happened after that.”

On if he thinks the team has been growing and maturing over the course of the last two seasons:

“Yeah, definitely. As I’ve mentioned, we never panicked. We never veered away from what we wanted to do – what our strengths are. We never got away from it. I mean, we stuck to it. I would have been worried if we weren’t creating chances, and we were. So, it was just a matter of time. If you give these guys enough chances, you can probably argue that we’ve got the best attack in the league.”

On the confidence level of the team:

“It’s high. We know that. We understand we’re in a good moment. We understand it’s a long season. It’s not easy to sustain this for long periods of time. That’s now the challenge. The challenge is how do we keep this thing going in a positive way, week in and week out. That’s what we want to do. It’s helpful when you get good results, but on top of that, we want to put together good performances and for most parts of the game, we did that.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On if the match today was frustrating:

“We moved the ball a lot so it's not really that frustrating you know when you get to attack quite a ton. I think we weren’t as sharp in the final third, myself included with those crosses. I know I’ve hit them better. A few were dangerous, but we’ve just got to be a bit better in the final third and with the final pass. I think that’s what we were missing today, but, ultimately, we scored four goals and won the game so those are complaints on a very high level.”

On the difficulty playing against the defensive style of Montreal today:

“That’s just where we have to just continuously attack and continuously exploit space – move the ball and try and find gaps. I think we stayed patient. We did that and then found goals. That's really all that matters.”

On how the team has improved from last season in how they deal with a bad beginning of a match:

“The kind of first half we had wasn't a terrible first half. It was just we were down 1-0. The one time they were in the box in the first half and they scored a goal. But, like I said, it was just playing continuously when we knew we were going to get chances and we knew that we were going to get the ball a lot. We just had to be clinical in the final third and that's what we tried to do, and it paid off.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

On whether the team was frustrated during the first half:

“Of course there's a little frustration. It’s tough to play against a team that from minute one sits back like that, but that won't be the last team that does it like that. We just need to be patient and learn how to deal with it, and I think that today will give us confidence for (the) next time (when) that occurs.”

On Kevin Kratz and his performance today:

“We were just talking about it. The whole team knew he was going to score the first one. He’s just automatic. He bangs on Brad [Guzan] almost every day in training so it’s really no surprise. So, credit to him because he just doesn’t miss when he’s given the opportunity. It was pretty incredible what he did. It was big for us tonight. We needed it.”

On if the confidence level of the team makes them feel as if they will win as they set foot on the pitch:

“It does. Yeah, we’re very confident especially here at our home. We feel like we can put teams under a ton of pressure. We know that we’re going to create chances to score four or five goals every game. It’s just a question of if we're clinical in front of the net and limiting the other team’s opportunities. Brad (Guzan) made a huge save when it was still 1-0 which was really important for us today and credit to the guys for sticking to it for 90 minutes because it was a tough one.”


Montreal Impact head coach Rémi Garde

On the atmosphere inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It’s a great atmosphere. It is fantastic. The stadium is brilliant, and you feel that as soon as you come in the stadium. The crowd is (very) behind this team and for the players to play a home game every two weeks, (it) should be a big pleasure.”

On whether the crowd noise affects his ability to communicate with the players:

“No, no that much. At this level in MLS or League 1 or La Liga, at this level, you are playing in big stadiums with big crowds. It is very difficult on the bench, on the touchline, to be heard by your player, which was the case today, but we know that.”

On what makes Atlanta’s attack so difficult to contain:

“They have many brilliant players. Very skillful, very fast, and then when they combine it is very difficult to defend against them. I would say that they have many (Ignacio) Piatti’s on their team.”

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush

On the team’s effort in tonight’s match:

“I think the score is not indicative of the effort we put in. Atlanta is a good team. If you defend like that for too long, they are going to catch their breaks and they ended up catching two or three breaks. That’s what happens when the ball is at your end the whole time. I thought (the effort for us) was very good. I think if we would’ve had that effort last week we would’ve won that game, and if we have that effort moving forward – the month of May – I think there’s a lot of games in there that we can win with this effort.”

On moving beyond April:

“I can’t speak on behalf of everyone right now, but I think that we’ve pretty much tried to focus on one game at a time. We haven’t looked at blocks of games or the season as a whole. I think it’s more important that we focus on individual games. I think we did a good job of that today. Obviously, the score looks really bad, but I think that we can be a little bit more proud of the effort, energy and commitment that we had today.”

On two free kicks by Kevin Kratz:

“Yeah, the first free kick was in a close area, and if you can get it up and over the wall then there’s no way of saving that. The second one, he caught me cheating a little bit, and when you cheat a guy like that with a good free kick, he’s going to make you pay.”

Montreal Impact defender Jukka Raitala

On the effort from today’s match:

“The first half was very good. I think we had no problems at all. Still four goals, we lost. We have nothing at the end.”

On Evan Bush’s early saves on attempts from Josef Martinez:

“Evan (Bush) has been on fire the last games, for sure. Those are very important saves, but he shouldn’t have needed to make those saves. We have to be more sharp, especially at the beginning of the games, and (in the) second half as well.”

On how he feels in the 4-4-3 formation:

“I think it was fine. It’s so important that we work collectively as a whole team. When all the guys are giving one-hundred percent on the field, it’s not that difficult to support more from us and (it) makes our job easier.”