Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs NY

  • Match: Atlanta United vs New York Red Bulls
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: November 25, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 3-0  (Recap | Highlights)

On how satisfied he is with tonight’s performance and result:

“First thing we can say is that we finally beat them. I think the team did a good job tonight, and we were solid. It was a team win and we didn’t suffer aside from two situations on set pieces. The first one gets called back by VAR. But overall, I think the victory is deserved. We will have to analyze it and see if the score difference is deserved, but I think it was a good win. Now, we have to get ready for another battle on Thursday.”

On what was said between him and Kaku (Alejandro Romero), and if he was surprised that New York went away from the high press:

“All good. I’m not going to say I was surprised by their tactics, because they are a team that pressed very well all year, especially at home. They have been able to do that on the road too, but tonight they let back a little bit. Instead of playing many long balls, we were able to do what we’ve done a lot this season as a team, which is play out through the back. We were able to do that on some occasions tonight and were able to score a goal with a nice diagonal ball from our right center back to Josef (Martinez) for the first goal.”

On if he had already reminded the team that Red Bulls scored three goals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals second leg at home vs. Columbus:

“No, not yet. I didn’t want to be so pessimistic on such a happy afternoon. We know the Red Bulls are a very good team and they are capable of scoring three goals at home. The only thing we know that we are satisfied with this win, but we have to get ready for the next game.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance:

“When we wanted to sign Franco (Escobar), this is the player we wanted to sign for our team, the Franco we’ve seen in the last five or six games. He’s adapted very well to the position. He’s able to get forward, he’s versatile. He’s a physical player, and he’s scored two goals now in the last six or seven games for us that have been very important.”

On the team’s defensive performance:

“That was the change that we made after the Toronto game heading into the Playoffs. We knew that we had to be solid defensively. We knew going into the Playoffs it was going to be very important to be able to keep clean sheets. And that’s what we tried to do. And we’ve played three games now against top teams in the Eastern Conference, and we’ve held them to one goal. So, we knew that was going to be key.”

On Tito Villalba, Ezequiel Barco and Chris McCann’s performance:

“The only thing I have to say is that there are very few teams who have players coming off the bench like Tito (Villalba) or Ezequiel (Barco) who are able to change a game or make a difference in a game.”

On adjustments from playing the Red Bulls two months ago to playing them today: 

“I think the biggest change was we knew we had to match the intensity of the Red Bulls. In the last game we played there, we were not able to do that. That was the biggest difference. Looking back at all the games we have played against them, I think you have to analyze each match individually. In the other matches, we could not get the result for different reasons. In the last game, intensity was the biggest thing, so we knew that was a key coming into tonight.” 

On the VAR decision and if he knew it would be called back:  

“Tonight, it was in our favor. At the time, I did not even know what the call was, but then I learned it was some kind of offside. I do not have much to say because it was in our favor tonight. I think Brad (Guzan) was looking and trying to find the ball, so you could make an argument there was an offside. At the time I did not know what the call was.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

On how much this win is a confidence boost for United:

“It’s obviously a big win. Under these circumstances, in this environment, at this point in the season, it’s a massive victory for us against a very, very good team. We played basically as best as we could have today. We got a little fortunate on the goal against us that got pulled back, but from there, we really did what we had to do today.”

On the key to keep this momentum going into the next game:

“Yeah, it’s going to be challenging. I saw the Red Bulls beat a very good Columbus team 3-0 at home two weeks ago. We know nothing is over yet. We’ve put ourselves in a good spot, and that’s it. It’s up to us to make sure that we go out there and take advantage of the 90 minutes that we put in today (and) not let that go to waste. Obviously, scoring an away goal would be fantastic, and that will probably be the goal.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance:

“Franco was the deserved man of the match today. I thought that he was immense for us. He won so many 50/50 balls for us. When you play against the Red Bulls, you have to win those 50/50s or at least a good chunk of them, and he was so important for us there. He took his goal fantastically. Thankfully, it was on his left foot – that’s his goal scoring foot – so a massive performance from him.”

On if it is ‘any sweeter’ that this was the club’s first victory over the Red Bulls and on the physicality of today’s match:

“It’s not any sweeter that it’s our first time. It’s nice that it came at this point in the season under these circumstances. You know that when you play the Red Bulls, it’s going to be a physical game that you have to win your fair share of challenges (and) you have to win your second balls because they’re so, so good when they win the second balls and when they attack very quickly, and I thought out midfield did a fantastic job of winning those second balls and playing in behind them.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance tonight:

“I couldn’t have told you he was going to come out here and have a breakout game or be the man of the match, but the whole team had a very good two weeks of training. We got healthy after the last game and then, we had some good training sessions, and Franco was out there every day working hard. I’m really happy for him. He’s been very important to the team all year. To come up big in such a big game, in such a big moment, I’m really happy for him.”

On if he thinks that the Red Bulls missed Kemar Lawrence in tonight’s match:

“Any team misses somebody that’s in the best 11. He’s deservedly in the best 11. He’s one of the best outside backs in the league. Of course, they missed him.”

On if he was ‘surprised’ the Red Bulls ‘did not press as effectively’:

“Well, we thought it was possible given how they played against us last time they were here and how they played against Columbus away last round, but you expect the press, and then, it’s easier to adjust to the half press than it is to vice versa. So, I’m sure it’ll be different at Red Bull Arena. We expect to go there and face the type of team that pressed us the last time we were up there, so we’ll be ready for the press and expect it.”

On the differences he has noticed in the team since the regular season:

“I think that we’ve just raised our game a little bit. We’ve raised the energy, the desire, the fight. We’re not afraid to go out there and lose the possession battle. We don’t have to connect 30 passes to go to goal. We’re going to take what the game gives us and against the Red Bulls, a lot of the time, it’s play along, win 50/50s, get in behind them, quick attacks, so we did a little bit of that against New York City, as well. So, you have to adapt, and that’s what we’ve done well.”

On if he thought their first goal would be taken back:

“No, it took me by surprise pleasantly. I didn’t even know what the call was until after the game. Kevin didn’t say on the field that it was offside, we just assumed on the header across, on the original ball that (Aaron) Long was offside, until we saw the replay and see (Alex) Muyl in the way. I told Brad (Guzan) it was a great job calling for it.”

On the mindset going into Red Bull Arena:

“It’s very difficult to go there and just defend your 18-yard box or defend your half of the field. They’re such a quality team. So, definitely, we want to be able to press them a little bit, but we have to do it smartly, of course. We understand that we don’t have to go win the game 2-0, 3-0. If we get an away goal, it’s big, but first and foremost, of course, we need to keep them off the scoreboard.”

On the message to the team going into Leg 2:

“Just enjoy the moment, play up to it, play with passion, play for the city, and go out there and fight. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s a real big change from how we’ve done things in the regular season and playing out of the back and connecting passes. It’s not the most important thing here in the postseason. The most important thing in the postseason is winning games, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win games.”

Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez 

On what the team did differently against the Red Bulls:

“Yeah, I mean last year Columbus couldn’t play with us either, but they won in penalties. Things are different. Sometimes, you win. Sometimes, you lose. What happened is over. Today was a different story and we’re happy we won.”

On his goal:

“If you’re asking me how I scored, I don’t know, and if I had the same chance again, I’m not sure how I would have handled it, but, the important thing now is we have the second half of the final.”

On how he feels about Leg 2:

“Like I said, this is just the first half, so definitely not. We have to go there, where we’ve never gotten a positive result, so, this is only the first half.”

On scoring his first goal against the Red Bulls:

“It’s always sweet to score a goal. It doesn’t matter who it’s against – Red Bulls, New York City, Madrid, Barcelona. Scoring is my job. So, I’m happy that I scored tonight.”

On setting the MLS record for most goals scored in the regular and postseason combined:

“Hopefully next time they’ll give me an award with my name on it because they gave me a trophy for the Golden Boot without anything.”

On what Tata (Martino) has done for his game:

“We’re working hard for that. When Tata (Martino) took control of this team, nobody knew how we were going to play. Now, here we are in the Conference Championship. But, thankful to him, thankful to the coaching staff and all the players, and that’s why we’re here.”

On who he gave his jersey to after the game

“To my grandmother. She was sitting behind the goal, and I had never given her a jersey before. So, today I got emotional and gave it to her.”

On Tito Villalba and Franco Escobar’s performance:

“For Franco (Escobar) in these last few games, that’s not the Franco I’ve met. But I think he deserves all of it for what he’s doing for us. He’s played very well in the last few games. And for Tito (Villalba), I think it’s a big relief. I told him in the locker room, “that’s the Tito I know,” and he gave us a really important goal.”

On how he felt physically in this game:


On how important it would be to win a title for Tata (Martino):

“He’s with us. I don’t know if he’s going or leaving. I see him every day, so I know we’ll see him on Thursday.”

On whether his grandfather has nicknames for other Atlanta United players:

“A lot.”

On what emotions he’s feeling with his grandmother and family in attendance:

“I never experienced the affection like I have here.  It’s very emotional for me when I see my grandmother cry. It makes me emotional, but my grandmother has always been there for me, so it’s really important to have her here. We got to the stadium today, and we saw the papers in the stands and everything they had choreographed, and it was really special.”

On how he feels to be so recognized now in Atlanta:

“I’m waiting for them to take the falcon down and put one of me.” 

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On how it feels to win this game: 

“I don’t know. All I know is it’s a great start to the series for us. It’s a great result. It’s only halftime and we know that, so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves by any means, but it was a massive performance on so many different levels.” 

On the team’s approach that will be taken up in New York City:

“The same. We’ve got to be intense. We can’t take our foot off the gas we can’t go up there and just defend for 90 minutes. We need to play like this from here on out and that goes for the second leg of this series and if the stars align, if we can make it to the final here, then great. We need to play like this. This was a proper performance from start to finish.”

On the keys to getting a clean sheet in this game:

“I think intensity. Again, when we were up in New York, we weren’t even on the same level as them and between that result and the result in Toronto that really lit a fire under us in terms of knowing we need to compete. We needed to compete just everywhere, and today, we did that. We played when we were able to play. We fought we battled and ultimately, we scored three great goals.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance tonight:

“I said to him after the game when we came to the locker room, I said, ‘Yeah, the finish with a goal was great, but his ability to get up and down the line (and) cause them problems pinned them back a little bit and ultimately defend, right?’ You can argue that’s his first responsibility, and he was fantastic tonight going both ways.”

On the goal from the Red Bulls and having any idea if it was going to come back:

“No, to be fair when he shot it, I couldn’t see. I didn’t see the ball come off his foot. I didn’t see the ball until essentially it passed me. You look back at it and the referee gets it spot on because as we know that obviously, he’s in an offside position in affecting the line of the goal keeper. So fair play to the referee, I thought he did a great job in terms of letting a lot of things go tonight. This is playoff soccer, you don’t want to go into these games tip toeing around tackles and this and that. He let us play, and I think he let things go both ways.”

On this being a team that you have to take your chances with:

“We showed against New York City that if the game is going to allow us to play, we can play, and if the game is going to call for a bit more of a direct approach, we can adjust accordingly. On top of that, we’ve shown we can roll our sleeves up and fight. That part is huge and so going into this game we knew last few games they’ve had our number in terms of them getting the better of us and tonight, we were able to get the better of them.”

Atlanta United defender Greg Garza

On how the win feels:

“It feels wonderful. Just the work that every single one of us put in today was fundamental. I think that we’re very proud of ourselves for beating (New York) Red Bulls for the first time in two years. It’s still not over. We’ve got a very important game Thursday in New York, and hopefully, we can finish the job there.”

On the style of play that it takes to beat the Red Bulls:

“It’s not a pretty one. I think all playoffs that you see all over the world – especially in Mexico and US, the ones that I’ve been involved in – they’re not the prettiest games. They are not going to be the prettiest games. What matters most is who comes out on top, and I think we did that with the hard work we put in this week. As I said before, we can finish the job on Thursday.”

On what has changed since the regular season: 

“I think it’s the intensity. I think the intensity has been there from the first minute until the last. I think it shows from every single one of our players, we come in after 90 minutes, after 98 minutes, and we’re completely dead. That shows a lot of how much work we’ve put in on the field. We’re very satisfied with the work, but it’s not over yet.”

On the team’s mentality:

“It’s not over. We have to stay very strong mentally. We have to recover these next three days … and get physically recovered to the max to finish the job there in New York.”

Atlanta United FC midfielder Julian Gressel

On the key to the upcoming match at Red Bull Arena:

“Do not allow four goals. No, the key is to bring the same mentality and go into it as if it is 0-0. Obviously, you do not have to have the urgency going forward, but we have to have the urgency defending. The intensity, the fight, that we showed today will ultimately lead us to these kinds of games where the quality comes through in certain moments, and then you win the game. That’s the same kind of mentality, you know, going to work. They (New York Red Bulls) are a good team you know. They beat Columbus Crew SC 3-0 at home, so there is still 90 minutes left. Nothing is over yet.”

On how the team limited Bradley Wright-Phillips:

“It kind of starts with us getting good pressure and not allowing the service. He obviously has great movement in the box, and I think that was a set piece on his (disallowed) goal, but every time he was going to run a play, we had somebody covering the crosses, getting a little touch, at least not letting them hit free crosses in the box to find him. I think that was key to denying the service to him.”

On his run and cross leading to the goal by Franco Escobar:

“Miguel (Almirón) was charging at the defense, and I just see the space and make the run, and he plays a great ball. If he decides to shoot, great. I think that is what the run is for, to either draw the defenders with me, or he slips me in, and I kind of saw everybody running towards their own goal, and saw that space back there, hoping for a second runner or Josef (Martinez). It was a little behind Josef, but Franco (Escobar) was there to finish it very cleanly and get a great goal.”

On his expectations coming into the game and feeling out the Red Bulls in the first twenty minutes: 

“We kind of knew what was going to happen coming into the game. There was going to be a lot of fifty-fifty balls, a lot of second-balls to be won at midfield, so especially for me, Eric (Remedi), and Darlington (Nagbe), I think that was key. That is what we said to start the game, let’s go out there and fight and win those second-balls, and then we will go from there. But yeah, that is what the first 20/25 minutes, are all about, and obviously, the goal lets a little pressure off.”

On if there is champagne on ice right now:

“No, because we still have ninety minutes to play and then another ninety, hopefully. After that, we will get to that.”

On the importance of winning 3-0 instead of 1-0:

“It is the kind of thing you hope for out of this game. 3-0 is obviously a great lead, and kind of the way we have been playing defensively, I do not know if we have ever conceded four goals in a game, not that I remember, but like I said, it is still only halftime. We still got to play 90 minutes and show a lot of fight and heart to get this over the line.”

On the key to beat the Red Bulls for the first time:

“Just be a bit different and kind of match them in what they do, and maybe do it a little better. Like I said, with the 50/50 balls, that scrap, that fight, where they throw a lot of long balls at you and you have to be sometimes ugly, but we did a good job today and that is why we deserved to win I think.”

On essentially having the full squad available for today’s game:

“Obviously, that helps and that is what you want this time of year, have the guys ready to go. It is good to have everybody healthy and everybody available for selection. You see today, (Ezequiel) Barco comes in and Tito (Hector Villalba) comes in and do a great job. Chris (McCann) comes back and does a great job relieving Greg (Garza), and obviously ‘Tito’ scores, and Barco did a great job bringing a lot more intensity for the guys that travelled a long way during the International Break, so it is good to get all these guys back healthy.”

On if he thinks the weather will be a factor at Red Bull Arena:

“No, it has actually been pretty cold here, so it has not really been too much of a talking point for us, but we will see what it brings on Thursday night. We just have to keep fighting and hopefully, nothing can stop us now.”

Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pirez  

On his reaction to the New York Red Bulls not pressing:

“No, we saw that against Columbus Crew SC. They (Red Bulls) had the same identity, sitting back and giving us the dominance. We did not expect that, but it happened.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance:

“I do not know, maybe, he’s a lefty. He has scored more goals with his left. He did a great job, making him the man of the match, 100 percent.”

On the second-chance opportunities:

“We know we have to pay attention to the second-ball. We have to be closer with the strikers to win that ball, and this is what we did. It was ok, and we can go in with a win.”

On his first traditional Thanksgiving: 

“It was good. I had it with some American friends. It was a traditional Thanksgiving. You guys eat very early, but it was good.”

On Franco Escobar’s play evolving since they first met:

“I can see when he has intensity that he is a great player, and he showed us today.”

On the confidence that he has playing one-on-one defense knowing that he has help behind him:

“Yeah, we know we sometimes have to play one-on-one (defense), and we work on that. We can make great plays, and maybe that was a key to winning second balls and being closer. We did a great job.”

On if he thinks this was the most complete game of the season:

“Maybe in the playoffs this was the best game because we did great work in both halves. Maybe against New York City (FC) we did great, but we did better in the first half than in the second. Here, we played a great game in general.”

On shutting down the press of the Red Bulls:

“We know that they press really good, and we expect that, but they did not do that in the beginning of the game. We were surprised early, but we took (advantage early), and we did great in the first half. In the second half, we played a little bit more and found the spaces to score two more goals.”

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar

On his goal tonight:

“I was a bit surprised that the ball go through to me, but I have to be there just in case. The cross from Julian (Gressel) got by Josef (Martinez), and I was in the right place.”

On if he only scores goals with his left foot now:


On his assist tonight on Atlanta’s third goal:

“I don’t think it was an assist. I just gave the ball to Tito (Villalba), and he turned and scored a golazo (amazing goal) with his left foot. Luckily, he did score that goal, and it gives us a bit more of an advantage heading to New York.”

On Josef Martinez saying that ‘he is not the same guy he was when he first joined Atlanta United’:

“Hopefully, that means something good. Hopefully, it means that I’ve been working hard, and I’m seeing some of the fruits from all the work I’ve been doing. The most important thing though is that it’s serving the team.”

On the work he has put in at wing back, while his natural position is center back:

“It’s just hard work and the confidence that I’m getting from the coach. I’m playing a lot at right back now, so adapting as best as I can to the position. I’m working out all the small details of what that means, but right now, it’s just confidence.”

On working on his speed and quickness:

“Really it’s just been hard work in the gym. It’s something that I thought I needed to improve. I want it to be a strength of mine. Really, it’s just been working hard in the gym and knowing that at some point, it would help my game.”

New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas

On his message to his team entering the second leg: 

“Look, it is going to be difficult. It always was going to be. We put ourselves in a hole, but we came out of a series where we scored three in our building. That is the goal. That’s the starting point. We will score the first goal, and the rest will follow. We will come out a little bit differently with the energy and the fight that is going to be needed. It is pretty what is needed to be done. We are going to go home, and we are going to get it done.”

On the Bradley Wright-Phillips disallowed goal: 

“You score a tying goal that gets called back, yeah it deflates you a little bit, but Atlanta put a lot into it. All of their players fought hard the whole time. It is always a little bit of a letdown if a goal is called back, but we didn’t make enough plays on each side of the field. We let ourselves down that way. Give them credit on the night, Atlanta, and we will be up for the next one.”

On Kemar Lawrence’s absence: 

“I’ll say two things. Kemar is a big part of things around here. He has had a great year. We all know that. Maybe he will be back for Leg 2, we will see, he is day-to-day, but more importantly, Connor Lade stepped in and did a good job. He was solid. He gave everything like we knew that he would. It was a big test, a lot of direct play. He was fearless on the night. Connor stood up admirably, I believe.”

On the veteran player’s influence on the younger players heading into Leg Two: 

“It is going to be needed. It will be essential that the leaders step up, that we step up, the coaching staff, the rookies step up. It is going to be an effort that takes everyone, and I really believe that is going to come. We were down 3-0 at home against Columbus earlier in the year and with five more minutes we would have tied that thing up, but we only had 45 minutes and we did it. With 90 minutes, we are going to go after it. One goal at a time.”

New York Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis

On the match: 

“It is obviously frustrating for us. We came to a difficult place to play; fantastic atmosphere and they were very clinical in front of goal. This is the playoffs and we need to know what to expect. It is disappointing, but at least we get to go home and that is where we have been so good this year.”

On the overturned goal: 

“It was a really well-run free kick. I guess the ref was saying that Alex Muyl was blocking the vision of the goalie. I haven’t seen it yet, but it seems like a difficult call. It is hard for me to comment because I haven’t seen a replay yet.”

On if New York will come out pressing in Leg Two: 

“Yeah, very similar to the Columbus series. At home, we are very confident. We love playing at home in front of our fans and we have been great there all year. It is important for us to get a first goal early, and then press for the game. It is going to require absolutely everything from us to get the result.”

New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles

On the match: 

“They really got the better of us. We came here with a plan and looking at the result you can see that we failed to execute our plan. So, there’s not much time. We just have to regroup and look forward to Thursday. It is very clear what we have to do and just go one goal at a time.”

On getting an early goal in Leg 2: 

“Of course. When you look at the Columbus game, for us to get a goal right off the bat, it changed the complexion of the game. It is going to be tough, right? Because we can’t let them score. We just have to go for it, but I think at this point our back are against the wall and there’s nothing left. We just empty the tank and do all we can for 90 minutes.”

On if anything Atlanta did surprised them: 

“No, they are a good team. They have been good all year. They have been explosive. At home they are amazing. I think, just looking at the way that we gave up the goals, we lacked some discipline. We made it a little too easy for them. When you have a team as talented as them, and you make mistakes, they are going to punish you. We have a great group here and, in my opinion, it is a very special group. It is because of that the belief is going to be that we can turn this thing. It is very difficult, near impossible, but we are just going to continue to believe that we are going to do what it takes to get it done. We will just take it one goal at a time and on Thursday we will come out flying and do everything we can to advance.”