Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs FCC

  • Match: Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: March 10, 2019
  • Final Score: ATL 1-1 FCC (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United FC head coach Frank de Boer

On the number of goal scoring chances for the team:

“(FC Cincinnati) tucked in quite good, and they were quite organized, so that makes it difficult to create chances. I think we have to recognize to play a little bit of a different style. We have to have runners behind their last line, and I think in the second half we saw much more of that. In the second half, I think we created more chances than in the first half. When we scored to make it 1-0, they still tucked in on their own half, and it’s very difficult to create chances, but you have to have runners, and we did much better with that in the second half. I think we want to dominate to create chances, and we had too many of them. We want more, of course, but it’s always very hard. Everyone is very disappointed in the result, because in the 85th minute we’re still 1-0 up. I think it was really the first real chance they get when they scored. We have to also recognize that sometimes you don’t always play your best, but you have to win those games to get the confidence. Of course, every day we want to work very hard to get the team into better shape than they were the week before, and the result could be 1-0, and not the fanciest one, but that helps. Then, if you get an 85th minute goal against you, that doesn’t help of course. So, we have to lift ourselves up, and I think of Monterrey already again.”

On squad rotation during this stretch of games:

“It is the first home game, so you want to be as strong as possible. There’s normally almost 73,000 people in this stadium. We had a loss in the first game against D.C. United, so you want a good result. Normally, when you think, ‘Ok, we have won the first game,’ then you maybe do some rotation. But for me, the most important thing was a win to get a boost into the next game, and sometimes you have to risk those things. Again, a home game, everybody wants to see Gonzalo (Martínez), and that’s normal, so that’s why we put him in. Maybe when we’re 2-0 up, that’s when you say, ‘Ok, at halftime you’re going to be substituted.’ That’s just how it goes sometimes.”

On if the team was too patient or too cautious:

“No, they have to recognize because (FC Cincinnati) didn’t want to press. They are waiting for us to play the balls through the middle and then trying to counter us. That’s what I said, try to look more for runners behind their last line, and you saw the goal was a run like that from Josef Martínez. In the first half, we also had a little chance from Eric Remedi making a run behind the last line. Pity (Gonzalo Martínez) just didn’t reach one from about half a centimeter, so every time we created chances, we did it with dangerous runners. In the second half, I think we did better and had more chances, but it’s very difficult when the other team plays so compact. When you play for Ajax, or as a coach on any team, everyone just expects you to create chances and play on their own half, but that’s the most difficult way to play as a football team. Everybody knows when you have space, you can create more, or maybe in transition, but when they drop very deep on their own half, we have to be secure, have those individual actions, and make some runs to create space and stretch them. Hopefully, then you can get between their lines. We have to accept that and understand what kind of moments you have to play low and when you have to play between the lines.”

On the idea of changing the formation of the team:

“Of course, you’re going to think about it, but you also have to think about what you have available right now and is it the right thing to do. They played all of last season, every important game, in this system, so they know exactly what to do. I am not a guy who just suddenly decides to change, but you have to think about it. We do that, as a staff and myself, what is the best for this team, and whether it’s a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, I don’t hesitate to do it.”

On the play of Ezequiel Barco and Gonzalo Martínez:

“We have to try to go to them. When a team plays like this, so compact, and they are playing between the lines, it is very difficult to find them. Sometimes, you have to be patient and suddenly you will stretch them out and get your best players on the ball. Last season, we won a lot of times in transition, not so much dominating games. A lot of times it was transition when (Miguel) Almiron gets the ball, but we are now the hunted and have to try to make the game. That’s a different approach and everyone has to learn from that, which is no problem, but we have to learn quickly.”

On the crowd’s reaction following the game:

“I didn’t think it was fair because everybody worked very hard and gave 100 percent. (FC Cincinnati) had their first chance in the 85th minute, and I know it’s very hard to concede a goal like that, but defensively we were standing very well. Leandro (González Pirez), Miles (Robinson), and Parky (Michael Parkhurst) did fantastic, and Jeff (Larentowicz) in front of them. I don’t think it was fair to the team.”

On his reaction to the start of the season:

“Everybody was spoiled with the results of last season, so everyone has expectations, and that’s normal, but everybody also saw what happened with Toronto FC when they played in the Champions League last season. Out of nothing we were induced to playing a game every three days, so now I think in seventeen days we will play five games, which is a lot. We also play Monterrey, who is just a very good team, and not a team you just think you will beat away. We were very close to a very good result of 1-0, but two setbacks in the last nine minutes, and now in the last five minutes, so that’s hard of course, especially since everyone gave 100% to get a good result.”

On his opinions of what he has seen in training:

“That’s the main problem right now. When we had a week off, you can see we were quite good and I was very satisfied. However, we play a game every three days, so we can play one against one with the goalkeeper, play the ball to a striker who turns and shoots on goal, but there is no time to really play 11 against 11 because they have to recover every time. So that’s the problem with playing every three days, it is difficult to do a walkthrough more about what we expect when you have the ball, when you don’t have the ball, when we recover the ball.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst  

On how the team plans to turn things around by Wednesday:

“Yeah, it’s going to be difficult. The group is disappointed right now obviously. It’s been a tough run of games for us the last three. And we haven’t reacted well enough, and we haven’t performed well enough on the field. So, we need to look things over. We need to talk as a group. The good thing is we have another opportunity on Wednesday. But, we got one of the best teams in North America coming to our house, so it’s going to take every man to step up and play well.”

On whether formation changes would spark the offense:

“Who knows. Possibly. But, no matter the formation, we need to go out there and we need to perform better, each and every one of us on both sides of the ball. We did some good things tonight. I know they only had one shot on our net, or their first shot on net scored. Still, that’s a bad one to give away. So, it’s a possible maybe it gives us a spark. Hopefully something does.”

On the transition from last season:

“Yeah, it’s been a difficult introduction for Frank (de Boer), for the team. You go from one system to another, and you start off with a very difficult tournament, a good Costa Rican team. They’re not a powerhouse, but they’re a good team. And we play away to a team that’s always given us fits and a very good D.C. team. And then we play away to one of the best teams in North America. So, that’s an extremely tough run of games. So, part of us was disappointed and part of us was saying, “hey, that’s a tough run of games, so we get home, we fix things tonight.” And I think that was the hope here tonight, but it didn’t go that way. So, we have to look ourselves in the mirror like I said. It’s been a tough transition for everybody, but we need to make sure we stay strong as a group. We keep the belief and we’ve got time to turn things around, but we want to do it as quickly as possible obviously.”

On comparing the team’s frustration to the previous seasons:

“I don’t know. I mean, we got spanked the first game of the season last year, embarrassed. So, it wasn’t all roses last year. That was a tough one. The year before, we went four our five, six games in the middle of the summer where we didn’t get many good results at all, didn’t play well at all before we opened up Mercedes-Benz (Stadium). That was a tough go as well. But, this one’s a tough one for sure. You know, just coming off the win last year with high expectations and a new tournament. You know, even high expectations with that tournament. Of course we’re disappointed with the start, but we know we have what it takes in this locker room to turn it around. But, so did Toronto last year, so we have to make sure we’re not 2.0 for that.”

On what progress he hopes to see Wednesday night:

“A solid performance. Win or loss, it doesn’t quite matter. Of course we want to go out there, we want to try to turn the tie around and advance. But, most importantly, we want to go out there and have a performance where we come back in the locker room and say, “hey, we gave it all we got. We played well on the night and something to build off for Sunday.”

On the appearance that the team is not having as much fun this year:  

“I don’t know. Of course it seems that way. You know, we’re not getting good results. Had we come out here and scored a couple goals, then everything would be fine and dandy probably. You look back and say, “hey, they were tough away games and we’re okay.” But, because we didn’t today, maybe you can say things are tight. But, the mentality of the group has to be strong and we have to overcome a little bit of adversity.”

On frustration from the fans:

“Yeah, of course. You want to put on a good performance for your fans. They come out each and every home game with a great performance from them. The support has been amazing, and we want them to keep coming back and make sure we put a good product on the field. Hopefully we have a performance worth booing at home. 

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On the team's frustration:

"Yeah, absolutely. It's been a rough few weeks for us. Last year we weren't used to losing. It wasn't in our DNA. We found ways to win games, score goals. We found a way. This year it hasn't been the case so far."

On if offensive struggles are the root of the team's frustration:

"At this point, defending, attacking, the whole thing. We need to regroup. Go back to the drawing board and figure it out."

On how you keep the season from spiraling out of control:

"There's a lot of games to be played. It's our second league game of the season. We can't let this be a defining moment. This has to be a chance for us to have real conversations amongst ourselves as professionals, as athletes, as competitors."

On what conversions need to be had:

"Some honest truths, because at the moment it's not good enough. At the end of the day, it's eleven guys versus eleven guys. We need to find a way to win games. Plain and simple. We've got to find a way to score goals. We've got to find a way to defend better. We've got to find a way to win."

On whether the system is hindering the team's playing ability:

"You can talk about systems. You can talk about formations. You can talk about whatever you want. At the end of the day it's eleven guys competing against another eleven and more times than not this year we haven't been good enough."

On whether the team is playing tighter and not having fun:

"I don't know. Certainly not having fun when you're losing games, that's definitely the case. Goes back to the first point, it's frustrating. Last year we found ways to get results, score goals. Hasn't been the case so far."

On if the team feels like "the hunted" this year:

"I think we were the hunted last year. I think it was probably for a different reason we were the hunted. Everyone wants to come into this beautiful stadium and play in front of 70,000 – and turn up and play their best. We got the opposition's best last year in that sense. This year we're the hunted because we've got a star on our chest. It's a big boy league, you've got to step up. This is what we signed up for."

Atlanta United FC midfielder Julian Gressel

On his reaction to the draw in tonight’s match:

“It’s tough you know I mean obviously want to go out and play for such a great crowd you know and go out and go up 1-0 and then to give away the game kind of like that at the end is disappointing yeah that’s really it.”

On if the new tactics are to blame for the slow start:

“I don’t think so. You know I mean it’s always tough to play against a deep playing team you know that’s very compact. We had trouble against teams like that last year for example,  so its always tough to play against a team like that to find the spaces to get dangerous spots. I thought we controlled the game really well in the first half, they didn’t have anything not even on the counter. We obviously go up 1-0 and we had a couple other crosses that were just off.”

On if he is worried about outside noise creeping into locker room:

“No, I mean we have to stick together here in the locker room. It doesn’t matter what’s going on outside it’s us 30 everybody that’s on the roster. We have to stick together and be on the same page, including the coaching staff. We have to have to belief in what we are doing. We have to get on the same page and play the style that we want to play as a team and then we will be successful and start winning games again.”

On if this team is not playing as loose as it was last year:

“Yeah, it’s obviously tough because we have had a couple of rough games lately. You always have that in mind a bit, where it might hinder you, but we have a couple of guys that didn’t play a lot of minutes last year. It’s all still a little new and not as fluid as last year. We really worked together for a whole season before (2017) and everybody came back, except for Yamil Asad, but we didn’t really lose many pieces. That’s why this year is still new and we are adjusting to some new pieces on the pitch and it will take some time. It’s good to be a little patient right now, but obviously we are trying to work on it. It’s frustrating for us. We don’t want to go out there and give the game away in the 86th minute and tie 1-1 in front of 70,000 fans. That’s the last thing we want, but we will just continue to keep working and there are 32 games left in the MLS season.”

On the team struggling to score a lot of goals, when it’s a trademark of the club:

“It’s like I said, it’s tough right now. We are all used to the scoring like last year. We treated ourselves well in that respect, but like I just said we are still a new group and things have changed. We lost Miguel (Almiron), we’ve added some players that didn’t play a lot of minutes last year and have come in the team now. The coaching staff has come in with some new ideas. I think we just have to patient. We want to score goals and win games, so I understand the fans wanting that too. Ultimately though, we just have to have a bit more patience. We will work through this and score more goals again.”

FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch

On the team’s response to going down 1-0 early in the match

“I don’t think it phased us at all. Obviously it is very difficult to go on the road and play in a place like this and concede that early. Some teams will collapse, but give the guys credit tonight. They didn’t collapse at all. We just stayed calm, we managed the process of getting through the game, did what good teams do on the road and go grab a goal by the end of the game.”

On having a game plan for Josef Martinez

“Give him no space. For every quality player you play against, if you give them space, they can hurt you. That was the plan for him, but it was also pretty much for the entire group. There is a reason they are the champions in the league. They have a lot of quality players, I think they showed that at times tonight. But give our group a lot of credit. Collective defending tonight was very good and I’m glad to see the guys get rewarded with a goal right at the end of the game.”

On what the turning point was

“When you are home and you are up, you want to finish the game off. By not scoring the second goal, and us not allowing them to score the second goal, [that] kept us in the game. That allowed us then to make some attacking substitutions. Putting Kenny [Saief] was an attacking substitution, putting Greg [Garza] on is a very attacking substitution because he is an attack-minded full back. Obviously, we had to get Kekuta [Manneh] off because he was injured, but Darren [Mattocks] went on and did the job too. By virtue of staying in it as long as we did, we allowed ourselves to have that chance and they guys took it right at the end of the game.”

On getting Greg Garza his first appearance against his old club

“It’s huge. You could hear their fans. It showed how much they valued him here over the last two years and you can see how much we are going to value him moving forward. I’m excited to see him and our entire group play at Nippert next week.”

On what this result does for FC Cincinnati

“You know what’s funny? During the course of the game, I was thinking, ‘we are showing major growth.’ We might have showed major growth tonight without getting anything from the game. We believe in the group. Obviously, we know it is going to take time, but that growth was unfolding in front of our own eyes as the game went on. I think getting the point is huge for the players’ confidence. They will feel a lot better about themselves and the worth that they put in. They should have been rewarded tonight. They put in a very good collective performance, and to get a point on the road here is a huge milestone for us as a club.”

FC Cincinnati midfielder Kenny Saief

On entering the game in a difficult moment

“It was okay, the team tried it’s best. We worked as a team and I’m happy that we could score. I think we deserved over the last few minutes to even win the game. There is still a long way to go, we are improving week-to-week and I am very happy that we could take a point today.”

On sensing that a goal was coming

“Yeah I always believe that we can do something. There is a lot of quality in the team. We just needed to push to believe it and go for it.”

FC Cincinnati defender Greg Garza

On getting a warm reception from the Atlanta fans

“I couldn’t ask for any better. This is probably one of my favorite stadiums to ever play in as a professional. To be able to win a championship here and get that reception and be on the opposing team – I’ve never been a part of something like that. It was breathtaking, and it is something I will always remember.”

On the flow of the game when he entered

“I think we definitely needed some guys to change the game and that was the talk with all of the coaches before we came on. Give credit to the subs that came in. Darren [Mattocks], Kenny [Saief] and myself gave a bit of energy to the team. We kind of got into their half more than we did the entire game, so it was good to really step uit p a bit. We just got a really valued point against a championship team. Moving forward, obviously you can’t get too confident now. We have to focus on next weekend at Nippert.”

On how difficult it is to get points in Atlanta

“After three minutes in and they score, I didn’t even see the goal. I think I was still waving to some fans. I thought the game was going to end about 5 or 6-0. I’m glad we were able to change it around, I’m glad we were able to get more energy as the game went on. We started to grow some confidence and, to be honest, I think we could have really changed the game if we had more time. It is tough to see my old teammates going through a pretty tough time right now, but at the same time, a really valued point that we have with this new club.”