Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs NE

  • Match: Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: October 6, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 2-1 NE  (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino

On Miguel Almirón:

“In regard to Miguel, he is having some tests done, and we won’t know the results until later. It seems like it was a muscular injury. I think the reaction from the team was good. We played very solid in the first half. I think Miguel’s injury affected us as a team a little bit and also the fans. We lost some rhythm, but after that, we were able to get it back and score a nice second goal. The game was under our control until the very end when they scored a goal.”

On George Bello’s performance tonight and if he will get another start in future:

“I think we all have to remain calm with George Bello. Although he has all the ability to play, and he did well in his second start, he’s only 16 years old. We know that now we have two finals left to play and then the playoffs after that, so we just have to know that he is capable of playing if he is called upon to play.”

On the play from Josef Martinez in today’s match:

“I think he did very well, working for the collective today. He understood that the team needed him when Miguel (Almirón) went out. So, he did some things that he is not accustomed to doing for us. He dropped back a little further to start initiating some play for us. He had one really nice play where he could have scored. He made a beautiful move and just missed the goal. I think today he did some things that the team needed of him and we didn’t let the result slip away.”

On the physical play today and how Atlanta never lost control:

“I think that I’m happy with how the team played. In the second half, I think that we lost a little control of the game. We made some mistakes and lost the ball a few times too easily. Especially playing out of the back or moving the ball in the buildup of play. Sometimes, those mistakes can hurt you, but I think the effort was good tonight. Coming off last week, we did a good job, but in the second half we could have been better.”

On what the team learned from last season playing without Almirón that it could apply now if needed:

“We learned to miss him. Sometimes with teams, the guys that are out there just have to play stronger as a team. You saw it last week with the Red Bulls. They were missing two of their most important players in (Tyler) Adams and (Bradley) Wright-Phillips. So we know that if Miguel is out, the guys around him are going to have to step up. Maybe they aren’t as talented as he is, but they will have to do it with a lot of hard work and sacrifice.”

On being in a somber mood despite the victory tonight:

“Because I saw Miguel and he looked upset, and I put myself in his place and know that he has worked so hard all season. It’s a tough situation for him. I’m not euphoric, but I’m not very upset either. It’s good that we were able to quickly get over last week’s result. Coaches are usually more euphoric when you get the win, but also if it’s a great performance. Today, we got the win, but the performance could have been better.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On this was the kind of performance he wanted to see after last week’s game:

“We controlled the game today. We wanted to come out and be on top of the game and control it (and) make sure there was only one winner today, and I think we did that. Early on, we were, sometimes, a little too lax maybe in the first half, where we were kind of like ‘Alright, we got this.’ Ultimately, we sealed out the game, kind of an annoying late goal there. But we win the game, three points is all that matters at this point.”

On happy he is for teammate George Bello:

“Extremely happy. I don’t know if he’s already inside the locker room or not. He might still be crowd surfing out there, but he deserves it. There’s a lot more to come from him, and it’s just the beginning.”

On if he was expecting New England to come out and play as physically as they did:

“They’ve been a team that has been fouling a lot all year. They’re very aggressive when they press. Today they kind-of let us have it in the back, and then, once it got to the midfield, they got pretty aggressive, so we were definitely expecting that. Not really any surprises. We just had to play through it and kind of get their hand and kept going and just playing within the game.”

On if there’s any concern of facing a team with similar physicality in the playoffs:

“I actually thought the referees did a pretty good job early on. I think (New England) got four yellows, five yellows, I’m not sure, but it’s obviously the job of the referee to kind of keep them in check as well, and if anything gets out of hand, kind-of take control of the game in that sense. Like I said, we have to just keep playing through whatever comes at us in the playoffs or whenever – the next two games – so it’s a good learning game today that I think we can draw upon later on.”

On how the team will move forward if Miguel Almirón misses time:

“He’s Miggy, you know, like we want him on the field, but I remember last year this kind-of happened as well, and we were able to still win some games without him. It is what it is. We’ll move forward. We hope it’s nothing serious, and he’ll be back very soon because we want him on the field. Like I said, he brings a lot for us, but it is what it is, and we’ll just have to deal with it.”

On what he saw early on with the success of the long passes early on:

“That’s just what the game presented to us. (New England) kept a really high line. They were very compact in the midfield, so we couldn’t really get any balls into the midfield to our attacking midfielders, so that they can face to play. We found some space behind early on and just played to that. We have a lot of runners on the right, you have George (Bello) going behind for the goal, for example, or before when he was offside where we score. It’s just kind of what the game presented.”

On what he saw open up before he scored his goal:

“It’s a long ball from Brad (Guzan), and I kind of just flick it on and I get a pretty good jump on the ball, and I flick in and Tito (Hector Villalba) runs into space there. I see him – he’s one vs one and he’s not really in a position to cross or shoot, and I just see a lot of space and kind-of know it was right there, and it was just a little determination goal where I just kind of muscled him off and ran in behind him. (Villalba) plays a great ball, and I just figured to shoot it far post, and it went in. I just saw the space and kind of what the situation brought.”

On how he thought Ezequiel Barco played today:

“It’s a tough game to come into that quick, without really a warm up. I didn’t really expect him to come in that early, but I thought he did a good job. He found his way into the game and then kept the ball for us, created some things for us, so I thought he had a good game.”

On the difference between today’s game and the game against New York Red Bulls:

“It’s a different opponent first of all. It’s a completely different game. It’s at home, and I think we’re very comfortable at home. New York is very comfortable at their place, so it’s just a different matchup today. We wanted to come out and be on top of the game and be the team that we are at home, control the tempo, control the game for 90 minutes and then score goals.”

On what adjustments the team needs to make for the playoffs:

“No. We haven’t discussed anything. We want to win, and we want to win the Supporters’ Shield, and there’s no real thought of the playoffs yet.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

On bouncing back after last week’s loss:

“It was very important. We have done it all year. After a bad performance, especially after a loss, we have always come back and gotten a good result. Today was no different. We knew it was a big game. Three games left, and we control our own destiny. If we take nine points, then we win our first trophy. Step one is now complete.”

On limiting New England’s chances, especially in the first half:

“I thought the guys on the outside were fantastic. We didn’t allow them to get crosses in the box. Teal (Bunbury) is very good in the box, makes very good runs, but he needs service. Today, he didn’t get any because Julian (Gressel) and George (Bello) along with Jeff (Larentowicz) and Leandro (González Pírez) did very well on the outside making sure they didn’t get any easy crosses in. Guys pressed hard, and we were able to keep the ball, so that helped as well.”

On what he was doing at 16 years old (in reference to George Bello’s performance today):

“I wasn’t scoring goals in front of 45,000 people, that’s for sure. It’s impressive, not just the goal. The goal is very well taken, but I thought he had a very strong performance, offensively and defensively. Really did his job well, understood what was needed of him in different aspects. (He) defended really well – 1-on-1, especially – in the second half. Overall, a very good performance from George (Bello) tonight.”

On what the team learned from last year playing without Miguel Almirón:

“Everybody had to play better. Miguel is a guy that we rely on heavily. He can break pressure singlehandedly. If you play the ball anywhere on the field with him, he is able to dribble past one guy and create space because he is so quick (and) so fast with the ball. If we are without that for any period of time, guys will have to step up. We will have to do a little more movement on the field, connect more passes probably, because we don’t have the outlet that he provides.”

On not keeping the clean sheet:                                                         

“Defensively, we love to keep the zero on the board. We worked hard to keep it tonight. Sure, we are a little disappointed, but we are happier with the three points. That’s much more important right now.”

Atlanta United FC defender George Bello

On being the sixth-youngest player to score a goal in MLS history:

“I mean, it’s amazing. I don’t think it’s really settled down in me yet, but in a few hours, I’m probably going to be going crazy. It’s just a great feeling, and to be able to help the team to progress in the playoffs and positioning is even greater.”

On who he watches and tries to emulate his game after:

“Yeah, I do watch a lot (of soccer). Every game that I can watch, I try to watch it, and I usually watch Marcelo (Vieira), Marcos Alonso, for Chelsea FC, David Alaba, those positions because they’re all attacking players, and I also look what they do to track back and defend, so I try to make my game after them.”

On playing a full 90-minute match:

“Yeah, right now I’m pretty tired, but it’s usual. It felt good to get the full 90 in. Good for my experience, and hopefully next time, I’ll be even less tired than I am right now.”

On what he applied from the Real Salt Lake match to this match:

“Just to move forward from what I did last game, because I knew I had to step up my game from last game. I could not go under that. I had to play harder and play faster, so that’s all I tried to do, and tried not to go under the bar from last game.”

On being more comfortable going into this match:

“Very. I was more relaxed and more comfortable. Nerves are still there, of course, because you’re still trying to help your team and all that, but I was really more relaxed and more composed this time.”

On Tata’s instructions before the match:

“Just to attack, but also, if I’m attacking, I need to do 100 percent attacking, but 110 percent defending. So, it was more of the defensive side, I wanted to look at today.”

On whether his goal celebration was planned:

“No, when I scored I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’, so I just started running and just ended up facing the crowd, which was pretty cool.”

On his dancing after his goal:

“I was Milly Rocking. That was the only thing that came to my mind, so I tried to.”

On getting opportunities to score: 

“It just happened. I mean, it was just the play of the game, the roll of the game. Whatever came to me, I just tried to do the best choice to do.”

On whether he was surprised that the New England Revolution kept leaving him space behind:

“No, because of the way we were playing, we really stretched them out. Our formation really stretched them out, so Julian (Gressel) and I really had a lot of space for us to drive down the line, so it was really from our teammates making space for us.”

On whether he knew all week he could possibly start: 

“Yeah, I did.”

On whether knowing all week he could start changed how he prepared for the match:

“No, just kept focused. You know, played regular Fortnite early in the week. Crammed myself to watch video of New England, of course. It was a regular week for me.”

On what George Bello going crazy is like:

“Just like screaming to myself, hanging with my buddies I don’t know. I don’t know yet.”

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco

On Miguel Almirón: 

“In reality, it was a very difficult moment because we all know Miguel (Almirón) is a very important player for this team and the team needs him, so I just tried to go in and do what the coaching staff asked of me.”

On being subbed into the lineup: 

“I work hard all week and then, it’s just a decision to the coaching staff who plays and that all I can do is work and go in and try to do my job.”

On how he feels of coming in off the bench and being a spark: 

“Today, my job was to come off the bench, so I just tried to go in and contribute to the team and help us get three points.”

On if he is comfortable playing in the center:

“Today, I had to go in and fill Miguel’s (Almirón) spot in the middle, but I have played there before so I’m OK.”

On his formation preference:

“The coach chooses the formation, and we just try and put it to work the best on the field.”

Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pírez

On the game: 

“I think we controlled the game for a full 90 minutes. They were able to find a goal late, I think more than anything just due to the fatigue on our part, but we were able to get the win.”

On how strategy changes when a team press like that: 

“We know that they like to press with their four attacking players, but we also knew that if we could get through that line we would be able to find some space and try and get behind them, so that what we were looking for as a defense just to move the ball and be patient and try to find the open man and get him behind them.” 

On physically how the guys are doing: 

“I think as you saw we were pretty good physically in this game. We controlled the game for most of it. At the end, maybe, we didn’t have the ball as much as earlier in the game just a little bit fatigue, but the result was really never in jeopardy, and I think more than physically it important for us to just arrive mentally strong in this last stretch of the season.” 

On his comfortability playing in the current role: 

“I like playing in a back line of three personally because I grew up playing a lot of that in my youth teams, but honestly I am comfortable in both systems it doesn’t matter much one way or the other.”

On Miguel Almirón: 

“We know Miguel (Almirón) is one of the most important players for us on this team if he’s not able to play, it would be a big loss, but we wish him the best we hope that it’s not any serious injury and that he’s able to come back and be with us in the shortest time possible. We know that other guys in his position if they have to then they have to have the ability to come in and try and do their best to fill that spot.” 

On how the team responded today after a tough loss last week:

“It was a difficult test, but we knew that we wanted to get our confidence back after last week, and so being able to get that win today, I think is important for us to retake that confidence as we head into the final two games of the season.”  

On the long ball to Bello and how he played today: 

“On that play, all their players were looking in the other direction, so they weren’t really paying attention, and we noticed early in their game that the winger on that side was kind of open and the outside back was more close so we thought we would be able to find George (Bello) with some space there, and luckily I was able to play a good ball, and he was able to control it well and finished well.”

New England Revolution head coach Brad Friedel

On the match:

“As far as Atlanta played, I thought it played out exactly as we thought. The first 15 minutes they always come out really fast and we wanted to try to stay compact. I don’t think our back four, in the first five minutes, got the depth quite right and didn’t drop off. At the time that they scored the goal, things were getting a little bit more comfortable for us. It’s the story of the season, to be honest with you. It is an individual mistake where we switch off on a set play. In the run of play, they were having a little bit of the better of it in the early going, but then it calmed down like most of all of their games. Once [Miguel] Almirón went out, that takes away an enormous part of their attack. In the second half I don’t think we were able to capitalize due to the second goal. But we keep fighting, we always will. We came back to 2-1 too little too late.”

On slowing down Atlanta’s transition play:

“They weren’t passing through us at all. Everything was over the top, which was what we wanted. The first couple of balls over the top, I don’t think our back four dropped enough, but other than that, I thought it was pretty comfortable. We saw what New York [Red Bulls] did with limiting Almirón’s touches last week, and if you can limit his touches – he sets up an enormous amount of their goals – so, obviously I hope his injury isn’t too bad, but it was good for us when he came off. The second goal was a bit of a deflater, but we kept working at it. We had a couple other opportunities. In the second half, we wanted to press a little bit higher because we were down a goal and Almirón was off, so their exceptional pace going forward wasn’t there. It is a real shame because I thought the boys put in a really good effort.”

On Zachary Herivaux’s first MLS start:

“I thought it was a shame that we conceded at the time that we did because I thought at that time it was a turning point for us when Will [Zahibo] and Zach [Herivaux] were starting to get on the ball and Luis [Caicedo] a little bit in the midfield. We wanted Zach in there with his energy and play right in front of Will and alongside Luis and try and go out and pressure their back three, but also be able to come back in for the second hole. We will watch the video and see exactly how he did, but I thought he did OK today.”

On Andrew Farrell’s status:

“It is a pretty bad hamstring injury to be honest with you. So, I don’t know how many weeks, but it will definitely be at least three. It occurred late on in the second half of the Toronto game, which is the reason he came out. We didn’t know the extent of it until probably Tuesday. Andrew is a lovely character, and he is one of the guys that is the life of the team. He will be missed, but I’m sure he is going to work to get back as soon as possible.”

New England Revolution midfielder Zachary Herivaux

On the match:

“I think it was all out there for us to take the three points. We frustrated their game, and we stuck to our tactics. Once we had the ball we needed to produce more opportunities, but I feel like it was there for the winning.”

On conceding the first goal:

“We have to look at that on video. It was just a set piece, and we fell asleep and they capitalize on it. We can’t let that happen because – against good teams like this – they will punish us.”

On getting his first MLS start:

“I have been working for many years to get this opportunity. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the result. Hopefully, next time I get this opportunity we are able to.”

On the importance of getting more MLS minutes:

“As time goes and as more minutes are given to me on the field, I think I will be able to develop a lot quicker. I’m thankful for the opportunity and hopefully more come.”

On heading into international duty with Haiti:

“It is a big match for us. It is for qualifiers. We need to win every game, so we are going to go in there with a fresh mentality and know that we have to take care of business once we step on the field.”

New England Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton

On the match:

“It’s a tough one. I felt like, at times, we had moments in the game where we were the better team. The [Miguel] Almirón injury definitely changed the game in our favor, and I felt like once he went out of the game, we had the possession and created chances. In the second half, I thought we had chances to score, but we just left it a little too late.”

On Atlanta United’s first goal:

“We talk all week about the little moments whether the ball goes out of play or set pieces and stuff and being switched on and knowing where guys are, maybe it was a quick lapse, and they are coming quick on the counter. They are one of the better teams in the league on the counter. Maybe we switched off for a second and it cost us a goal, but I felt like we played our way back into the game and had chances and came up a bit short.”

On slowing down Atlanta’s transition play:

“Defensively, I thought, for the most part, we did very well. We were concerned about [Miguel] Almirón, [Tito] Villalba and Josef Martinez, and I felt like overall we did a pretty good job of containing them. Obviously, with their level and quality, they are going to get chances in the game. It just is a matter of minimizing those and I thought throughout the 90 minutes that we did. We created a couple chances, they finished off theirs and we were late to get one and ended up short.”

On being named captain:

“It means a lot. We walked into the meeting this morning and they announced that I was going to be the captain. That is huge for my confidence and that is huge for me being here. I am very thankful for it. There are a lot of leaders in the locker room and to be recognized and to lead the group today was something special and something I will always remember and hope to continue moving forward.”

On the importance of returning home against Orlando City next week:

“It is a huge opportunity. We need to maximize the last three games that we have. That is nine points that we need to take from those three games. At home, we need to take care of business. It is down to us against Orlando next weekend at home and nothing short of three points will do.