- Match: Columbus Crew vs Atlanta United
- Location: Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, OH
- Date: June 13th, 2018
- Final Score: CLB 0-2 ATL (Recap | Highlights)
Atlanta United FC
Head Coach Gerardo Martino
On slowing down Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuain
I think the team felt more comfortable tonight playing with four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. We were able to get more pressure upfront so less balls got to Higuain and Zardes
On Josef Martinez’s injury status
It is possible that he broke his nose. Tomorrow, as soon as we get back to Atlanta, they will take him to get some tests done and we will see what happens.
On why Josef Martinez was subbed off
He couldn’t breathe.
On surpassing last year’s regular season road victory count
The same thing we always say. We have been together longer. We were able to modify systems. More time together, able to modify the formations, more hours of work on the field just getting to know each other better. That’s been the difference.
On the depth of Atlanta United’s roster
When I say more guys on our team, that is what I mean.
On how Hector Villalba looked in his return to the pitch
Good. We didn’t want to risk him playing too many minutes tonight because he was another alternative to bring on at halftime for Josef [Martinez] but we didn’t want to risk it with 45 minutes so we decided to bring him on in the second half.
On Miguel Almiron’s play with a shoulder injury
Surely he is not completely comfortable, but whenever he is on the field he does great things for our team and his assist on the goal was great.
On Josef Martinez’s importance
That is what it means to have a goal scorer like him on your team, because not only was it his first real chance to score, but he hadn’t participated much in the game up until that point. So, he just needed one chance and he was able to help us.
On executing the game plan despite the weather
I think so. I think the climate was a factor in the beginning but once we got past that we were able to pressure them when we wanted to and we were very solid.
On what winning the 2026 World Cup bid will do for the United States
I think it is a big support to the league that the World Cup is going to be here, and I also think it is very important for the U.S. National Team because I think it was a step back for them not qualifying for this World Cup. But I think that it will be even more extra motivation and even more motive to work hard and qualify for the next one.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
On the team’s performance against Columbus Crew SC
Jeff [Larentowicz] was excellent. [Michael] Parkhurst was excellent. Leandro [González Pirez] was excellent. The three of them contained those guys for 95 minutes tonight. You saw how humid it was, you saw how hot it was, how difficult the conditions were in terms of the quick turnaround from New York [City FC], where it was difficult for us. Then, to come into a place like this, and to put in the performance that we did, outstanding.
On Atlanta United’s road success this season compared to last season
I think mentality, in terms of how we approach games, our ability to be a mature team. I thought today, especially. I don’t think it was until the eighth or ninth minute until they [Columbus Crew SC] touched the ball. We had a fantastic period in the first half where we kept the ball moving, one or two touches, made them shift, made them defend. Obviously, they weren’t pressing us high, and we weren’t causing them any problems. Stuff like that is important on nights like tonight. It’s how you get points on the road in MLS.
On their recent successes against Columbus Crew SC
It was important that we got to Gyasi [Zardes]. He’s the top player, so we got to [Federico] Higuain, he’s a top player, he can pick passes. I think as the game went on, we almost kind of said to ourselves, there was a feeling on the field that if we said, “if we’re going to lose, someone else is going to have to beat us.” I don’t think I had much to do. One or two saves, couple crosses, guys dealt with things in a fantastic way. Tremendous effort tonight. That’s the key.
Midfielder Hector Villalba
On getting back onto the pitch and scoring in his return
I’m happy, really happy, because these three months have been difficult for me. It just seemed to be injury after injury, so that’s why I’m really happy to get back on the field, and this game meant a lot for me.
On his goal
I talked to “Tata” [Gerardo Martino] before I went on the field, and he told me that there were going to be chances out there, especially when Miguel [Almiron] gets the ball and we’re on the attack, so he told me just to run with him and try to find space, and Miguel would find me.
On handling injuries and coming off the bench
We’re just taking it step by step. I was able to get 15 minutes tonight, hopefully against Chicago [Fire] I can get some more minutes, so that’s the goal, just keep getting more minutes and trying to contribute to the team. I didn’t participate much in preseason, and I’ve been injured all season, so it just seems like the injuries have been against me, but I just want to get back and help the team.
On how the win helps going into a stretch of home games
I think it’s really important. It’s going to serve us well, because we want to be a good team on the road. That’s something we set for ourselves as a goal this year, to be better on the road, because last year, at times, we were weak. We want to get as many points as we possibly can, and we know it’s impossible to take all of them, but we just want to take as many as we can and be strong on the road.
Columbus Crew SC
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter
On if their performance was ‘flat’ tonight
I think so. I think it was. I think that’s a good way to categorize it. It was a flat performance by us. We got beat tonight by a better team on the night. It’s frustrating. I think they didn’t have much going either, but they get the goal, and then they continued to push and they get the late goal again. But I just think for us it was not a great performance.
On what didn’t go well tonight for Crew SC
I think we set up a little bit differently and I’ll take responsibility maybe for the guys being out of sorts. I think we had a plan and the plan was to move the ball quickly to a certain area, and I didn’t think we executed that well. I didn’t think we were clean enough on the ball. I didn’t think our passing decisions were good enough. When you look back on it, you think, ‘okay, there’s a number of things that could have been better for sure.’
On if Crew SC created enough scoring chances
Yeah, I don’t think we created enough to be honest. I know the shots say 13, but I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with the ball circulation. It’s not what we had in mind. It’s not what we envisioned. There was some pockets of space that we wanted to attack, and I don’t think we did that well. You still have to give a team like Atlanta credit for not having much, but being able to capitalize on a corner kick to get the goal. We had a couple of chances that didn’t go in, but overall, we could have been much better tonight.
On the conclusion of a tough three-match stretch
Well I think the Eastern Conference is difficult. Games are going to be really tough, and I think that’s what this homestand showed. You look at Toronto who is a desperate team. I think Red Bulls is a very good team. Atlanta is a quality team... Probably one of the better teams in the League. So, you know games are going to be very tight. You know they are going to be decided by very little. You know you might not have a ton of opportunities and you have to capitalize when you do have them, and that wasn’t there. That wasn’t there in this game tonight.
On Crew SC’s mindset moving forward
We’ll give them a couple of days off after tomorrow. I think they’ve earned it - it’s been a busy stretch - and then prepare. I mean it’s not like there’s faith lost in this group. It’s a very good group. It’s a very good group. We lost a game tonight and we have to move on. It’s as simple as that. My philosophy is to make players better, and to keep improving, and that’s not going to change.
On Wil Trapp’s performance
I’m not going to comment about an individual in a critical way. I don’t think that’s fair. Wil [Trapp] was a guy that wanted to be on the field that was in Europe a couple of days ago. He had to come back and battle jet lag. I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss his performance.
On if Mike Grella was off the Gameday 18 for rest
Yeah it was. When you look at - Ricardo [Clark] started the last game and he wasn’t in the 18. Josh Williams started the last game and he wasn’t in the 18… and Mike [Grella]. It was just a case of rotating guys out and getting some new guys in. To be honest, I don’t think I got the selection right tonight. If I’m completely honest, I think we came up short in a couple of areas, and I think it could have been maybe different with a couple of other selections.
On if he considers the defense successful in limiting Atlanta’s offense
No. No. Again, I’m not pleased with the performance. I think it’s a subpar performance. I think our standard is higher than that. I think maybe a couple of individuals performed well defensively, but overall it’s not what we drew up.
On what he wanted from the 64th minute substitutions
Well I think we wanted to bring the ball centrally to get the ball wide. That was the idea. So, then we pushed our full backs higher. We brought pocket players in, and we thought we’d be either combining through the midfield or opening up space wide. If you see the chance when Harry [Harrison Afful] switches all the way to Milton [Valenzuela], and he goes across the front of the goal, that was a good example of that. Just, there team trying to combat the numbers in the middle and opening space wide.
Defender Milton Valenzuela
On Crew SC’s first loss since April 14
It has been a while since we lost, like four or five games. We’ve been winning, we’ve been doing well. At the same time, even though we lost today we are a team that always likes to force the action, we’re not going to sit back. We’re going to keep our heads high and get back at it again.
On Crew SC’s rhythm
It was a very even game, it was very even. It was mostly battled out in the midfield. What you saw was two teams that were attacking and they [Atlanta United FC] made the most out of [their] chances, we were not able to make the most out of our chances because, even though there weren’t any clear-cut chances, we did get chances but couldn’t convert them.
On the importance of the upcoming break
Yeah, it will be nice to get a break this weekend and we will be able to rest our legs as well as our minds.
On whether Crew SC met its own expectations
For sure, I think we didn’t play [like] what was expected for us. We are staying happy, this kind of game will happen, but the most important thing is we have to keep the mentality to get better and keep playing better, because of the championship is long.
On the upcoming 10-day break
We have to use this break. We need to rest and see what we have to do better.
On Atlanta United FC
They have a good team. Us, we have a good team too. We are both in the top of the League and it was a hard game.