- Match: Chicago Fire vs Atlanta United
- Location: Toyota Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
- Date: May 5th, 2018
- Final Score: CHI 1-2 ATL (Recap | Highlights)
Gerardo "Tata" Martino, Atlanta United Head Coach
On how he would describe this game tonight:
"Very even in the first half and then we had a very good 18 to 20 minutes in the second half that allowed us to win the game."
On the potential impact of Barco scoring his first goal:
"For sure it will make him more calm, make him more secure within the team and it's important for him as he is getting better, and playing with his teammates."
On the difference between May last year and now:
"It is what we always talked about, more time together as a team, overall improvement among the team, reinforcements on the roster, we have more depth this year, and I think all that combined is what has been different for us.”
On the difference on playing out of the back from the first to second half:
"I think we were a little bit better in the second half because we changed the way Jeff moved and his positioning so he was receiving balls behind the front three, who were initiating the press, so he was getting the ball behind them as opposed to in the first half when he was dropping in and playing as the fourth defender on that line to receive that ball. Schweinsteiger, Katai and Nikolic were doing a good job controlling them."
On the confidence level of the team:
"It's a very long season. We realize we are in a good moment and what we have to do now is just prolong it. We want to be a consistent team, as we know in this league there are going to be games where we have to suffer, and tonight it was difficult in the second half, they put in a lot of balls into the box that we had to defend. We know we have a lot more to go."
Michael Parkhurst, Atlanta United Defender
On whether this game was the toughest three points of the season:
"I don't know, they're all tough. There are no easy games in MLS. It's a fight, it's a grind every week. You have to bring it. Today we just did enough. It wasn't our best performance. We struggled at times, they pressed us pretty well, we struggled to build out of it a little bit. We were a little open as well in the first half but we hung tight and we got some good goals and we hung on the at the end and dug in and did what we needed to do to get the result tonight."
On whether they were looking ahead at the upcoming Sporting KC and Orlando games and saving for this game:
"No, I don't think so at all. We talked about focusing on the game at hand. There are no easy games in MLS. We do not overlook anybody. We knew it was going to be a tough game tonight. Chicago is a tough place to come and play. It does not matter what they've been doing, we know that teams are going to play well against us, they're going to bring their best, and Chicago was good tonight. They made it very difficult for us but we are fortunate to take the three points."
On how the Fire made the game difficult:
"Yeah, I'm not going to dissect it for other teams, they will have to do it for themselves. They just made it difficult for us to play out, they took away some passing lanes. We were not sharp enough. We did not take advantage of one-on-ones, when they did go one-on-one against us, we just didn't move the ball fast enough. The field was a little bit bumpy and it was a little windy. Those didn't help but we knew it would be like that and we said there were no excuses tonight. Let's go out there and win. And we did that."
On the importance of getting the three points tonight with Sporting KC and Orlando upcoming:
"Very. It's a tough week for us. Three very good games. We've been on such a good run, we don't want to throw it away in one week. If we started the week bad, it could go south pretty quick. Anytime you have that and a quick turnaround, now we get ready for Kansas City and it's going to be a tough one at home. They're probably the best team in the West, or one of the best teams in the West. It was a challenge against them last year and we kind of eeked out a result against them last year. So hopefully we will have a much better performance in front of the home crowd."
On how Franco Escobar did back in the starting eleven:
"I thought he was very good. He made a lot of good defensive plays. One-on-one, calm in the air, in the box, very good defensive performance. If he could just stay out of Brad's way, or avoid Brad a little bit, that would be good as well."
On how close the ball was to the line from the one Escobar cleared off the line:
"I'm not sure, I don't know if it was going in, or if it was going wide. The angle I was at, I'm not quite sure. If it was going in, he was in the right spot at the right time. That's what you want in guys, to come in and not quit on the play, back guys up so he was there for Brad."
Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United Forward
On scoring his first MLS goal:
"In the last game I wasn't able to get it, but luckily tonight I was able to score. I was really happy for the result."
On his goal:
"It was a really quick play. We caught Chicago a little off guard, and Miguel made a great pass and I was lucky I was able to finish it."
On whether this was a tough three points tonight:
"Chicago is a difficult team, but tonight we got the three points which is important for us to keep growing, and keep improving as a team."
On what the coach said at halftime:
"The first half was tough, so in the second half I dropped back a little bit and Miguel moved up a little bit on the field we were able to get the goals."
Veljko Paunovic, Chicago Fire Head Coach
Thoughts on the match:
“I’m proud of the effort from our team, our guys. I think we played the mature game, I think we played a game against a really good team. We had a huge effort in the second half, we were a better team and we also had a good second half except for the two situations, two details that decided the game. The first one obviously is the moment where the game raced down and the game opens in that moment. We also conceded another goal right after which is something we cannot allow. That means in that moment our mentality wasn’t at its best and we need to work and fix that. But I am very happy how this team is in this moment, where we need everyone’s effort and everyone to give the support and confidence to their teammates. This is how the team is sticking together and how the team is supporting each other. This is what we need right now and we keep rolling despite the loss today. We keep growing. I see my team every time, every game get better and better, and you know like I told the guys in the locker room, sometimes you win, like the game in New York. Sometimes you tie when you have this kind of attitude and this kind of mentality like the game in Toronto and today we fell short to tie the game. We want to win but unfortunately it just didn’t happen. We never give up, we push until the end, you can see that we put on the field, all the pieces in order to win in the end. But, this time it didn’t happen. With this attitude we will for sure win more games.”
On the decision to utilizing Jonathan Campbell up front:
“We needed someone who could play in aerial duels because we had enough pieces on the field who can move the ball side to side, that’s what we wanted, and wanted to commit more defenders. If you didn’t see, they played with three at the back most of the time and when we started to put pieces up front they had to commit more players at the back. So we wanted, with Campbell being in the box, to commit more defenders and have Alan at least playing one-on-one against their defenders and not against two all the time. So that was the purpose and obviously he’s good at aerial duels, he’s good at set pieces, we expected more set pieces that we could score in that phase in the game. Again I think we as a team we’re growing, we’re very proud of the guys and we will play like this and we will win games.”
On Bastian Schweinsteiger playing higher up the field than in the past few games:
“When I speak about the defense, no matter who plays, the whole team defends no matter what the formation it is. I think that we were very solid, I think we were a team that was very difficult to break in the first half. Second half things happened, we kind of dropped our cautiousness and what happened in that moment they scored a goal. They had quality so you know you can never lose or drop points against them and that’s what happened. Then the second goal as I said before was too soon in conceding that goal, we didn’t have any time to react and adjust and try to push forward and that advantage was too big and in the end that’s what the result was. It was too big for us to come back but good reaction, great goal by Kevin Ellis, good reaction from the team in that moment and as I said, don’t look where is Bastian playing, look where the team is doing.”
Johan Kappelhof, Chicago Fire Defender
On playing a tough attacking team:
"It was a tough game, difficult up front, they have a lot of good players, so we needed to be focused and 100 percent concentrated. I think we worked hard, we defended as a team, and we gave them a hard time, especially in the first half. We can be proud of ourselves."
On moving on from the last three results
"Good teams, but we also have to look at ourselves, how we can do better, also on the ball, how we can create more chances and more goals. I think we can be proud of ourselves over the last three games and take that to the next game, to Montreal, to get three points."
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On the team's performance
"I think we did attack the goal really well, in the first half especially. We had good chances to score goals. We didn't score a goal, and in these kinds of games, small details decide the game. At the end, the team was a little bit more quality once again."
On returning to the midfield
"Good, I think it was real good. We pressed on quite well, we won a lot of balls up front, we had very good chances in the first half to score a goal, we didn't score a goal, so that's a little bit disappointing. We have to keep going, we played against a very good team."
On moving on to Montreal on Wednesday
"I think we had good things in our game today against the ball, also with the ball. We did some good things, we created chances. Maybe some situations we could, when we have the ball, show up a little bit easier to get more ball possession and control the game. But if you ask me about the next game Wednesday, we have to recover fast and be ready to play against Montreal."
On a setback after two positive results
"Obviously, to lose is always a setback. But as I said, we played against a very good team today. We have to see, we have to accept also that they have very good players in their squad on the field. But as I said to your colleague before, we had very good situations in the game, especially in the first half. We won the ball, we created chances, we didn't score a goal. I think we could have been one goal up at halftime and it's maybe different. Small details decide games, and unfortunately we couldn't score that goal. You could also say that Atlanta, when they had one chance they scored a goal."
On Atlanta United
"You can see that this team does a lot, put a lot of money also in the squad. To buy a player like [Ezequiel Barco] for $15 million. I think this is unusual. You see they have a lot of good players, also regular players from the bench so they're one of the best teams from the league. Still, I think we did today in many situations the right thing to hurt them. We could not benefit out of it, so that's a little bit disappointing and that's why we probably lost 2-1."