- Match: New York Red Bulls vs Atlanta United
- Location: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
- Date: November 29, 2018
- Final Score: NY 1-0 ATL (Recap | Highlights)
Atlanta United FC Head Coach Gerardo Martino
Q. How about this club in its second season, watching these guys grow up and embrace what it means to play for this club right now and be on this stage that they are at so quickly?
Yeah, we've had the chance to work and form a team together with these players in Atlanta, and I think we've done a good job over these past two years. Obviously I think you saw this year, you know, the growth of the team and we exceeded what we accomplished last season.
Q. How key was the first leg for you guys? Obviously winning 3-0 is a big advantage for you guys, can game plan differently. How big was that?
Yeah, the first leg was fundamental. The advantage was fundamental, and based on that, that's what led us to coming out like we did today.
Q. How much did it surprise you they sat back a little bit more, as opposed to pressing you high like they did in September or end of August?
Yeah, away from home, sometimes this season, the Red Bulls hasn't pressed as much as they like to do at home, or they don't maintain it for as long of periods as they do. It surprised us a little bit, but tonight we saw when we expected from them, that they would come out and press us the way they did.
Q. Did that benefit you, that they didn't press that high at home?
Yeah, of course. To be able to score three goals at home without giving one up, that's definitely an advantage.
Q. How bittersweet it for you that your last match with this team is going to be MLS cup?
Yeah, it's nice, because we get to do it at home in front of all our fans, so it will be a chance for us to say good-bye to them. Regardless of the score, it's been important to play in front of those people.
Q. What do you remember about the day you were introduced as the team's manager?
What I remember most from that day is that, you know, I had the nerves from not understanding absolutely anything in English. I still don't understand much more, but I've progressed in some fashion, and then I remember working out of Arthur's office before the training ground was finished and just every day, writing different names on the white board, and over the course of those weeks and months as we were forming the team, just writing names, erasing different names and just trying to sign the players that we needed for the squad.
Q. Have you heard about Atlanta's history with pro sports championships and your chance to change that?
Hopefully we can change that. That's the only thing I want to say is hopefully we can change it and that history doesn't go on like that for too much longer.
Q. Can you talk about -- to be a more well-rounded team and to win games --
This wasn't our best performance. It wasn't our prettiest performance tonight but it was practical in our approach and I think that's important as a team to be able to adjust to different situations and overcome different situations, especially in the playoffs.
Atlanta United Defender Michael Parkhurst
On how proud he is of the team…
It is tough to describe. It has been a long season, it has been a great season, and we fought hard man. That is a fantastic Red Bull team. I have said it before, they are the best team in MLS history and we played as best as we could’ve against them over two legs. That is really tough to do, so really proud of the boys and I think we got one more big fight left in us.
On the results at home and on the road…
Yeah, I mean we approached each game great. We understood that we needed to win the fight first and foremost against the Red Bulls or at least match it. We had to win second balls at home, we knew we would attack a little bit more and we took our opportunities when they came and we scored goals. Coming here, we were always going to be a little bit more defensive. You try and play the game like it is 0-0, but you look up at the scoreboard and you see the aggregate 3-0, so you know that they are going to push and we are going to have to defend, we are going to have to weather some storms and we did that tonight and everyone from top to bottom did their work defensively, really proud of the group.
On hosting MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz…
I can’t even imagine because I feel like I have said it after a lot of games that is just keeps on getting louder and louder in our stadium and the last game against the Red Bulls was the loudest by far that I have ever seen Atlanta and I expect it to be even louder for the MLC Cup game. They just keep out-doing themselves, our support is amazing, I know that there was a lot of fans back home in Atlanta getting together for that game, so thank you for your support, we cant wait to play in front of you next weekend.
On nerves before the big game…
Yeah, absolutely. Just because that is a really, really good Red Bull team and if you don’t come out how we did against them tonight, they can easily come out and score three goals. They can score three goals in a half, so they could have easily beaten us by three or four last time we were here, so yeah they always worry you, but you’d rather be up 3-0 than down 3-0, that’s for sure, so you are nervous before the game, but once it kicks off there are no more nerves, it is all about getting the job done.
Atlanta United Defender Greg Garza
On what the atmosphere will be like at home for the MLS Cup Final…
Yeah. Post-game interview I said to one of my friends in Texas, California, wherever you are, the house is going be open. Just can’t wait for what the city will have to bring. The last game against Red Bull at home was unbelievable, everyone involved, so I think we’re hoping for something like that again.
On what it would mean for Atlanta to win MLS Cup…
That’s what we’re here for. That’s our job. We’ve done tremendously well these past two years, as I said before, it’s something new for all of us. I think the city of Atlanta has really taken us in with open arms. Arthur and everything that they have here. The project that they presented to all of us two years ago was something so good, we didn’t know it was going to take us this far. So, we are very proud of that, we’re headed home and hopefully we can finish it off this week.
On Atlanta’s defensive performance throughout the playoffs…
I think, even for me personally, to get thrown back into the fire at such a late time in the season feels great. I feel great, we all feel confident and that’s what I think you need. You need those different things within the playoffs and I think all of us have a good head on our shoulders and we’re able to stay calm and compact and we’ve done that the past few games.
Atlanta United Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
On the formation tonight…
We essentially played with wing back and five in the back in the first leg and we scored three goals and we could’ve had more, so we have been able to go between systems throughout the season. I think that is a strength of ours being able to go from one system to another.
On the defense…
Yeah, we talked about being organized, talking to each other, communicating and ultimately being intense getting in guys faces and making it difficult for our opposition regardless if it was New York City or Red Bull. From the start of this playoff run, we talked about having to be harder to play against and tougher in all aspects of the game and we have showed that in four games now.
Ultimately we want to win MLS Cup, so this is part of the journey to get to MLS Cup, to get to a final. All of our hard work throughout the season now allows us to host the final, that is important and doesn’t go un-noticed, so now we put ourselves in a position to hopefully go and raise a trophy in our home city.
On the way the series went…
Surprised, no. You are either going to get one of two things. You either are going to come high flying press or sit off a little bit. You read Chris Armas’ quotes and what not after the game, he has obviously had his reasons, but for us I don’t know if that was the reason we scored three goals, but ultimately we were able to get a decent lead coming into the second leg.
On what he expects next week…
I don’t know, something that is going to top that obviously. The fans have been tremendous for us and we can’t be any more appreciative than what we are. To be able to host a final, to be able to hopefully give them an MLS Cup, it should be a special night.
New York Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas
Q. What did Atlanta do to prevent you from at least cracking the aggregate?
Their structure 5-3-2, again, it wasn't a secret, when you play like that, yeah, it's just in the width of whatever it is, 44 yards, it's just tough for us to really attack the spaces that we're used to, the way we play, but we knew that, so coming in, we knew there would be space and we tried to open them up with different ways with width and we did at moments, whether it's in the wrong play or set pieces, yeah, there's a few chances to make some plays tonight and we were close on a bunch.
So you give them a lot of credit, over the course of the series, they limited our big chances and congrats to them. It's a fine line in these games, in these plays, so mostly I'm just proud of the guys, the way we competed in the series and on the year.
Q. When the group got together very early in preseason, the discussion among the group that this is the best version of yourselves that you had and that you can make a real run at the Cup, for it to come just short of reaching that, what's the raw emotion right now for you guys?
In our sport, I don't think you harp on this too long. It's such a rigorous schedule. You're in it every day. You don't stop. When you lose, it's a screeching halt, you know, and in a few days maybe or in some time, you'll stop and look back and we'll feel good about the job being done and what the guys accomplished. The emotion is, yeah, it hurts. We win the series, we host MLS Cup, and we got really close, once again, maybe the closest in terms of hosting that final would have been a treat.
Our guys stand tall in that locker room. They stood tall till the end of the game, the way they fought, stuck together. You know, more than four minutes of stoppage, like a standard four minutes, it's still surprising to me but maybe not. Yeah, it hurts. That's what the emotion is. Our season's over and in time, we'll feel good about the work that was done, that's for sure.
Q. What was your message to the team?
There wasn't a whole lot of words to say. I'm not sure who would have that much to say but the message was how proud I was of the team, then all the years of playing, you lose most of the time. Just the way it is, right. Even the greatest of all time, you play for 20 years, maybe you win five, but that's what it is sometimes, and most of the time. Shared my experience that it always made me ask hard questions about myself and how can I do better and what can I do more and it always made me hungry to come back next year, that was the message.
Also, to feel good about what was done -- and now's not the time, because their head is down, but guys, keep your heads up. It was incredible, the way you guys won the Shield, no one thought you would do it. So to win five games at the end of the year and we couldn't slip up once, and we didn't, we won a major trophy, and thank them for the support and the effort that they give the coaching staff and the organization all the time. We ask a lot of the players, and I thank them for that.
Q. How do you look back on the season and how do you see fitting into this six-year period where you've won the Shield three times now but always come up short in the post-season?
It just makes us hungrier. It's going to come. That's the mentality. There's not -- I will never be a person or a coach to think about, wow, we lost, we lost. For me, we've won a lot since we've been here. Major success. And with the club, the organization, Denis, what they are building, the academy, it's incredible. Not talked about, but it's incredible, the work Jesse did for the year, not talked about. It's incredible. So we focus on all the good that we do and we get to work every day. We don't cut corners. We show up early and leave late and keep going for it. It's coming. It's coming. Can't wait to get started again. That's what it is.
We don't think too much about falling short. Some would say, you exceeded that. I don't know, like which way you want to look at it. Like we won the Supporters’ Shield. In the future, we're going to host one game at our place, right. In many ways, it's a disadvantage. You have to go on the road. You have to play in their building, where the other team typically gets good results, have to come home -- it's difficult. It is difficult, and our guys don't make excuses. We don't make excuses. We just keep plugging. We'll focus on the positive and we'll look for ways to get better.
Q. If this was Tyler Adams’ last game with the team, or possibly will be, what did you see in his development over the last two years?
Tyler's growth, we haven't seen anything like this in this country. Christian and Tyler Adams, those are the two, you know, guys in our national team that show a fearlessness quality, big personalities, humbleness, work ethic, maturity courage -- going to start repeating myself -- courage, but keep going. When we saw Tyler, even the recent article, you can read it and almost have a tear in your eye of what a gift he is.
And we've seen him grow. We've seen him grow with his maturity, with how he can take over games, how he can lead, a 19-year-old, you know, leading a team in many ways. We've seen his performances with the national team, how he's a big presence in those games and a big energy, and where you put him on the field, put him up the field tonight, and things start happening. We've seen it on every level, his understanding, tactically in games, how to be more effective. So we've seen every box that you can check. Just it's growing rapidly.
And will he succeed in Europe? I think we know that answer. It's for sure, because he has the physical ability. He's got the mentality for Europe. He keeps improving, and, his personality and the courage that he has, the approach, every single day to get better and win, it's like I've never seen. I know certain players that play in Europe, and you see what he has, he's going to do great.
Q. When you look at this team and the way it's built with the balance and the roster, and then you look at the tactics which are so unique in this league, do you think it correlates to play off success, do you think there needs to be some tweaking come playoff time so this team can get over that hurdle of the past four years?
I think we are who we are. I think it's actually perfect for the playoffs. Hasn't brought us that trophy yet, but if it would be questionable for the playoffs, would it be questionable for the last five games of the year, and if that's the case, and in the tightest games, would it hold up when it mattered most, against Atlanta recently, biggest game of the year -- I just think that it's difficult in the playoffs. Every play is magnified. Every mistake you make, and it's such a fine line.
So yeah, Leg 1, ends up costing us. We lost our aggressiveness, and we were not ourselves as much. You can say, actually, I think it's ideal for the playoffs to win.
We'll look hard at that and see how we can improve that, and all the time, be thinking about how to stick to who we are and a game plan. But I'm all-in on this, the philosophy. Let me tell you, it's in so many ways ideal.
Q. To follow up on that, the tactics have always been high-press, turn over the ball and score. Does that have to change in a playoff situation where it's two legs, you have to vary your approach, so that they can't take advantage of that and put you in a disadvantage that you have for the second leg?
CHRIS ARMAS: Yeah, our team understands how to press up high. Our team understands how to press out of a deeper block. We've done that all year. That's not nothing new. The question is, what do you do when teams just play direct. Let's just say, leg one, do you get caught in second balls or are you trying to be too cautious, is the question.
So you know, high pressing is really, really nice when teams play out of the back. Like Columbus really gave us some moments -- but even they abandoned their norm. Atlanta did, as well. You saw the percentages of game one, the 25 percent long balls. It's hard to have a rhythm of our pressing, so it becomes one about counter pressing and compressing and controlling spaces.
So yeah, I'm not sure exactly more than that, but we'll always have to think about how we can be most effective and stick to who we are, whether we're up higher or even deeper, and even if you think about the first goal in leg one, it's across from -- we just didn't really address it outside the box and we didn't on the night, weren't as aggressive as we normally are.
Q. Ultimately for you, why do you think you lost this series?
It comes down to making plays. Tonight, we win 1-0, right. We put out every fire that came our way. There's a few of those that could have went the other way, not a ton of those, but there's a few, and on the other side of the ball, we make one play and there's a few of those that we could do more of and if you look at, we lost the series in leg one, we didn't make enough plays on either end of the field, in the middle of the field. We didn't.
So pressing, not pressing, we have to maintain our aggressiveness no matter where we are on the field, and you now have to make plays. Because if we just look at the individual plays of the goals, in the three really good finishes -- but we could have prevented all three of those. Things are tight in the playoffs, and it's about making plays, and we give them credit because they did, and we had to make a few more of those on each end of the field. You don't have to overthink that, at all.
New York Red Bulls Goalkeeper Luis Robles
On the emotion of the night…
Obviously disappointing. We gave it a go, I feel like the guys left it on the field and it’s kind of difficult ending the season on a win, right? But it turns out the first leg was just a little bit too much and we couldn’t overcome that.
On making the early save…
I mean if I was in their position, I would try to do that, right? Because if you can get an away goal, then it’s five goals and that in of itself is probably insurmountable, but it was a nice little start to the game and when it went our way there was a part of me that thought, “man, maybe tonight is going to work out, tonight’s going be our night,” and it was a crazy start of the game.
On if this was a missed opportunity…
The end of the season is always tough, especially if you didn’t win the MLS Cup. But we look back and we put together a really great season and I know in the offseason or at least in the preseason our staff was just so excited about what this team could do because they felt that this was the best roster they’ve ever assembled. I think the results speak for themselves. We set a record for most points in a season, set a record for most points at home, there were a lot of records and at least we were able to get the Supporters’ Shield which is a piece of silverware. There’s a lot of teams in this league that didn’t win any silverware. It’s crazy how because of the ambition of the team you end up minimizing something like that, but that’s a big thing to be able to look at your season and at least point to some sort of silverware I think is huge… and yet the big one eludes us. And it’s been 23 years, but we’ll go into the offseason, we’ll see what happens, you just never know how these things pan out. We’re going to lose some pieces, that’s just the way it is, but we’ll just get back to work hopefully next year in January.
On Three Supporters’ Shields in Six Years, but No Cup..
It’s tough right now. I think even a part of me is numb to all of it because of the overwhelming amount of disappointment. I know leaving Atlanta down 3-0 really frames what is going to be a difficult task, and yet there was so much optimism because one, the quality of the guys in this locker room, two, the ability that we feel we possess to overturn such a deficit, and then three, there’s just so much belief within this organization, within this locker room that we could do it. When it doesn’t work out, I think there’s just a lot of disappointment right now. Over the next couple weeks, you step away from all of it and you try to evaluate what’s going on and that disappointment may not go away, but I can say that it will fuel me for next season. As long as we haven’t won it, there’s always going to be that motivation to continue to go because it’s all I can do. That’s all I can do, right? … is continue to push myself to be better and as a leader push the guys to be as good as they can be and then you just give it your best shot.
On if this loss hurts more…
They all hurt, man. If I’m being honest, they all hurt. It’s not necessarily one more than the other, I’m going to go into this offseason racking my brain trying to figure out how I can help this organization be better. And I know I’m not going to have all of the answers, but the one thing that doesn’t change is I’ll continue to give it my all until they say, “your time is up.” So to answer your question, it’s not one more than the other, it’s all just very disappointing.
New York Red Bulls Midfielder Tyler Adams
On his future and this season…
It’s a tough way to go out. My focus all season long has been to try and win the MLS Cup, and to fall short is never easy. Obviously for me, there’s been speculation the whole season about what will happen next, and I’m going to keep you guys waiting again. We’ll find out in the next couple of days hopefully.
On if this was a tough way to end the season..
Absolutely. I mean, this series has been very very tough. Obviously complicated when we go down there [Atlanta] and dig ourselves a bit of a hole. To come back home, obviously we’re good at home, and you look at it, we win the game, but not the series. At the end of the day, obviously we’ll reflect on it and we’ll be ready to go next year, that’s for sure.
On soaking up the atmosphere postgame…
Everything, it was a good atmosphere tonight. Talking to the fans, talking to my family, whenever you can get an atmosphere like that and the support like that it’s always nice to walk around and thank the fans.
On what he learned this season…
I think I improved a lot this season. At the beginning of the season, there was talk about ‘Can he play center-mid at the highest level?’, and for me I played center-mid my whole life. Just to go out there this year and prove that I can be one of the best center-mids in the league was important to me. So improving on a lot of the little things and having a great coach like Chris [Armas] to help me through that, one of the best center-mids to play the game. I think I’ve improved so much this season.
On if the Red Bulls system needs to be changed for the playoffs…
I don’t. This system has helped us be one of the top teams in the regular season every single year. So if you can go 34 games and be one of the top teams, there’s no reason that you can’t go six and win a MLS Cup. At the end of the day, we hurt ourselves in a lot of little ways. Some weak performances in the first game, including myself, and we dug ourselves a hole, and you can come out here and have a strong performance but not quite win. The aggregate and stuff like that is tough. I know in MLS next season there will be some changes and I think that it’s going to be one-game elimination. Which, in our favor, we would have played every game at home this year. You look at the system and the way the league is set up, and it’s not easy to be successful. A lot of times it’s not necessarily a team that’s hot throughout the whole season that comes away with the Cup.
On if the Supporters’ Shield is a consolation prize…
No. I mean the MLS Cup is the ultimate goal. We’ve won the Supporters’ Shield before. I mean, for me, yeah, it’s a trophy to have, one that you can say you were a part of and you won. You had a great MLS regular season and you fall up short at the end of the day. So it’s tough, we put so much into it this year, whether it was the Champions League run that we made and we thought we could’ve possibly came away with that, and we hurt ourselves in that Chivas series. You look at this, we hurt ourselves in the first game of the Atlanta series and obviously the U.S. Open Cup, so at the end of the day we don’t come away with any trophies other than the Supporters’ Shield.
On what happened in this series…
I think that Atlanta is a good team, one of the best teams in MLS. I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t give credit to a good team. At the end of the day, it’s never easy to go down there and play in front of 72,000 fans and get a good result. Not many teams have gone there and got a good result this season. They changed the way that they played. We punished them in the first couple games that we played them, they changed their tactics a bit, and it caused us problems at the end of the day and we have to be honest with ourselves and look in the mirror and say ‘We had to deal with situations differently in certain points in the game.’ We dug ourselves a hole, we went down there and lost 3-0, so if we come away with a 1-0 loss or a 2-0 loss, or even get that away goal, it completely changes the series- we come home and we’re confident in our abilities. We were confident tonight that if we got an early goal, we were going to be able to secure two more. At the end of the day, V.A.R. screws us over again, they take another goal away from us, we score one, but fall short.
New York Red Bulls Midfielder Kakú
It’s unfortunate you weren’t able to reach the objective, yet you still made it to the Eastern Conference Finals…
Yes, it is true, we are very sad because we couldn’t make it to the final, which was what everyone wanted, but to be honest we are proud as a the team for the year we had.
Losing the series was mostly centered around losing Leg 1 3-0…
Yes, I think we made mistakes that game. We shouldn’t have allowed that many goals and also the fact that Bradley Wright-Phillips goal was called off, that kind of killed us, because otherwise we would have been able to tie the series up.”
On why they didn’t win the series…
I don’t think we did what we should have done, we made mistakes in the 1st Leg and we ended up paying for that.