Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs TFC

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Toronto FC
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: May 8, 2019
  • Final Score: ATL 2-0 TFC (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

On Josef Martinez’s impact as a playmaker:

“Josef is very important. A lot of qualities. He wants to be on the end of that part of course - that’s normal for a striker. But he has so much quality and I think he was a little bit unlucky with the final pass towards him. It was just a toe in between or the ball was hit too light when he was offside. I know he’s eager always to be enforcing goals and scoring goals, but I’m very pleased with his performance. The other teams have to look to other players and that Josef can give assists. So, I’m really pleased with his performance.”

On the team’s recent turn around:

“It starts with the team spirit and belief. Five and six weeks ago, we were really needing to get together and understand each other on both sides. From there on, we’ve made some very good progress, and it was already something we saw those two weeks on the training ground. You could see the work rate, and everything. You saw the confidence growing, maybe not directly in the result, but you already saw the beginning proof a lot during the games. This is what you want, of course. Of course, we can improve and we have to improve, but it’s a big step forward against a very good team and good opponent.”

On Pity Martinez’s performance tonight and what Hector (Tito) Villalba brings to the team:

“About Tito (Hector Villalba), he’s unpredictable. He’s one of those players, you never know what he’s going to do. Is he going to run, is he going to bounce to you. He’s so difficult to defend. He’s so quick, and that’s difficult for every defender. I’m happy we have him in our team. I know he’s always eager to play. Sometimes, you have to make choices. But now, it’s his time. He did a great job, scored the first goal tonight and was dangerous. I’m very pleased with his performance. I think Pity was improving, everybody could see that. You saw some highlights of what he can bring to the team. So that’s why I also let him play for 90 minutes. I know there is another game coming up quick, but still, sometimes, you have to get a feeling for playing 90 minutes. He was very close to making a goal or an assist tonight. I think he can be satisfied with his performance tonight. This is a good start for him for sure.”

On how the team defended against Alejandro Pozuelo of Toronto FC:

“Yeah, not only him but (Michael) Bradley and him are the engines of the team. We wanted to avoid giving them space to play like they are used to. We tried to get pressure on them. Sometimes, you see the quality of those players. But, I think we played really compact when we needed to be. We weren’t running around like crazy and trying to press. We chose the right moments when to be compact. I think that we did a good job with the defensive part tonight.”

On how big the win is with the short amount of rest:

“Yeah, it’s a big win for us of course. We only had two days of rest, we could barely train. Do some walkthroughs and prepare how we want to press. We thought they could potentially play with three or five at the back. This helps us now, because it is a tough period with the amount of games. It gives you extra energy for the next game with a good result like tonight. When the results aren’t as good, you can see some aches with the players come up. Now, everybody wants to be involved, and that’s always the case in these kind of situations when you win.”

On tactical changes in the second half to regain control of game:

“Sometimes, you know, they are bringing fresh subs and we have to adjust a little bit. We have to read the game and figure out what the intention of the opponent is. Are those players going to play more up front, but we have enough players with high intelligence to solve that themselves. If there is a different type of striker, one who is big target man, the other playing with more quickness. I think our team did very well, I didn’t have to say much to adjust.”

On playing rival Orlando City on Sunday:

“We are going to expect around 72,000 people here, so that means there is something at stake. I’m looking forward to it. It’s always nice to have special games like derbys. This is that type-of-derby game, so I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can have another positive result at the end.”  

Atlanta United FC forward Tito Villalba 

On how he feels after scoring his first goal of the season:

“Good. It finally came, right?”

On three wins in a row and if you can say ‘the champion is back’:

“You can say that, that’s the idea, right? To keep winning, be fighting at the top, slowly. The coach is getting to know us, and it’s good for us and him.”

On how the team was able to create so many chances tonight:

“We studied the opponent, what their weaknesses were. We tried to be well-positioned at the time to attack and the time to defend and tried to play to our strengths to find chances and score goals.”

On how good it feels to come in and score:

“I said it a while ago. That’s what I train for. When it’s my turn to have an opportunity to be at 100 percent and perform in this way. Today, it happened. Many times, I come in and don’t score or assist so that’s what it’s about, doing what’s best for the team to win. If I’m scoring goals that’s great, or assisting, but if not, the important thing is the team.”

On if it feels like the team is playing like it was last year:

“No, not yet. There’s still more missing. We’re getting results and understanding the idea of the coach, which is fundamental. I think that’s the idea. Step by step. Today, we won, and now, we have to think about the weekend.”

On what to expect from Orlando City SC as one of the team’s biggest rivals

“A tough game, just like all the games we’ve been playing until now. A special opponent, but we have to win. That’s it.”

Atlanta United FC midfielder Julian Gressel

On the team’s three consecutive wins:

“The feeling is here, and the locker room has changed quite a bit the past three games. I think that’s a very positive sign. Again, we had more chances to score more goals, but ultimately, we came out and won 2-0. It’s just been time and once you are together a little bit longer and have changes happening to your team, it starts clicking and we start to get on the same page. It’s just a natural path.”

On not allowing any shots on goal:

“It’s a commitment from everybody to defend when we have to, and then, we’ll get the joy going forward as well.”

On Pity Martinez’s performance:

“I think he’s played better and better every single game. I still think he has some ways to go where he’ll be even better in a few weeks. Like I said, he’s played good and played within the team. We’ve really combined with him a lot better. We’ve found him in the right spots, and that’s always important to find a playmaker in the right spot. I think it will be a joy to watch him going forward.”

On starting off the month strong:

“I think it’s very important to have won against a pretty good team in Toronto who will be at the top of the east by the end of the year. Having won three in a row and about to play Orlando at home in front of 70,000, we have to fancy our chances there and going forward. Now, we’re rolling, and hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pirez

On the team’s three consecutive wins:

We feel great. A few weeks ago, I said we were better, but now, we are doing great. We are good in the back and good in the front. Maybe with this idea and feeling, we can get better and better.

On preparing for the upcoming game versus Orlando:

It’s special for us because we know how special it is for the people. We try to prepare for all games and we know they’re important. We try to prepare the same like the other ones.

On how these wins feel and if it feels like the team is playing like they did last year:

“We play differently than last year, but now, we’re feeling what Frank wants and what we want too. We’re keeping possession, managing the game, attacking. We are a more intelligent team now, whereas last year we were a more passionate team and running around like crazy, and now, we try to make choose the right moment to press, make the best choice, be patient with the ball. We are changing that and doing good and winning.”

On how the team controlled Alejandro Pozuelo:

“We know what he can do. He’s a great player with great conditions. He can play with both legs, and we knew that. We tried to be careful with him, stay close to him when he received the ball, and maybe, we did great because he could never get comfortable with the ball and on the field, so we did a great job.”

On his long recovery run and tackle in the first half:

“Yes, it was touch because in the first moment I thought it was offside but when the referee doesn’t call it, I had to run and not think about that. Thank God I could do it because that was a great chance for them.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

On the upcoming match against Orlando City SC:

“The fans really enjoy the rivalry, but any home game is a big game for us. We want to go out there and keep the rhythm going and keep the good spirits going, and we will do that by winning.”

On Josef Martinez becoming more of a well-rounded player:

“I think he has had a great attitude, and he wants to win first and foremost. He wants to score goals, obviously, that is what he does and what he does really good, but he wants to win, and if that means providing assists, then, that is what he will do. He could have had two more if they had not been offside, which shows his unselfishness. A goal king like himself does not usually assist two shots, and I know they got called back, but if they had not that would be two more assists. He is a team first player, and he has been working hard for us.”

On the improvement of Gonzalo (Pity) Martínez:

“He has been great for us the past couple games, and that is what we expect of him. I think his confidence is growing game by game, and it is nice when we are able to score goals because it takes pressure off of him, and he does not feel like he has to do it all, which is probably when he is at his best.”

On the Ajax versus Tottenham match earlier today:

“We had the game on in here before our meeting, and the locker-room erupted, but it was not so loud in the coach’s office.”

On if ‘Atlanta United is back’:

“We feel good, we feel confident, and we are growing game by game. It is a great mood here in the locker-room, and we know that we are playing better soccer right now. We are getting the reward, getting the goals, getting the wins, and it feels good. We still have work to do on the field and in the standings, but we are confident. We were confident last year, we are confident right now, so we are in a good spot, but we want to keep it going. It is a long month with a lot of games, so we want to stay on this high as long as possible.”

On what has been clicking the past few matches:

“The goals obviously help, for sure, and it is nice to be scoring more than one goal. One goal is good, but more than one goal is even better, and defensively we have been very solid. Guys have been putting in a ton of work on the defensive side of the ball, our shape has been very good, we are understanding what is expected of us on the defensive side of the ball, and that is setting us up well for the counter attack, which is something we are very dangerous at.”

On getting these wins leading into the match against Orlando City SC:

“It is big, because we understand that that is a bigger game, especially amongst the fans. We want to go out there and put a great performance together. We know that it is going to be a great crowd on Mothers’ Day, and we are excited about it. Hopefully, we can rest, recover, and have the energy that is needed to put in another good shift.”

On Atlanta United reaching their maximum potential:

“I do not think we are at our peak right now, but we are growing. The confidence is there, and maybe it was not at the beginning of the season, but we think we are going to score every game, multiple goals. I think the difference right now is that we are not afraid to defend a little bit, sit back, get a good shape, and then counter attack. I thought our counter attack was very good tonight. Even in the first half, when we gave up a lot of possession at points, we were the more dangerous team. It seemed like every time we got into the attack; we had a chance. It is good to have possession and create goals that way, but it is also dangerous that when we do not have the ball, we can set ourselves up to counter attack.”

On the team understanding Coach de Boer’s philosophies better:

“Yes, I would say so, and I think that is natural to take a little bit of time with a new coach, new players, and a new atmosphere. To come into the season with such a tough tournament to begin with, and when results do not go your way, it is a difficult time no matter who the coach is, but even more difficult coming off the heels of a championship on the new coach. There is no doubt we needed a little bit of time and patience, but we feel good where we are right now.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On the team:

“Yeah, no question about it. You can see it in the crowd. You can see it in some of the performances of the players. I think that Brad (Guzan) said it at the beginning of this month, ‘You want to get off on the right foot.’ I think the game in Kansas City was exactly what we needed and tonight was a good game against a team we haven’t beaten, and now we have. But we played well.”

On if Atlanta United is back:

“I don’t want to give you guys’ headlines, you know? It is two wins in a row. Two shutouts against two teams that are always difficult to beat. Three in a row, sorry.”

On the team’s defensive performance:

“I think two games in a row where it’s like a mature performance. I think we’re always for the most part in control. I think there were times in the middle, towards the end of the first half where Toronto got a lot of possession, but we weren’t giving up chances, and I think that that shows a bit of control that we have. We might not have the ball, but I think we’re moving well as a team, defending well and not giving up those opportunities. Like you said, three shutouts in a row is a testament to that.” 

On taking this momentum into the Orlando match:

“Yeah, good timing. It’s always a big game, fun game. I think that they’re a tough team as well. This is another difficult game, but to do it at home, we always love to play Orlando at home with our crowd behind us.”

On if the team is playing as well as last year’s squad:

“Not yet. I think we’re in the middle of it. I think you have to keep building on it. The second you take your foot of the gas is the moment that you kind of lose it. Good performances. Guys are feeling better. To be honest, when you’re playing well it’s kind of when you want the games to come quickly. You want to turn around and play the next day. You want to get back up to bat. That’s where we are right now, and like we said it’s a big game Sunday.”

On the key to turning things around:

“You continue to build. You continue to get continuity and understanding with each other. I mean we are all professionals. At the same time, it takes time, but I think it’s beginning to develop into something.”

Atlanta United midfielder Dion Pereira

On if he thinks he will have a bigger role with the team going forward:

“Well, obviously, football is football. You have to always be ready for a chance. Obviously, I was ready today. Now, that (Ezequiel) Barco is with Argentina, I will take this as my opportunity to show what I can do. I’ve been training, training and training, and I was ready for the chance.”

Toronto FC Head Coach Greg Vanney

On the team’s effort:

“I would say that I’m not disappointed in the effort because I don’t think it’s a matter of effort. I think our execution wasn’t great. Just, I feel like in the first half we had as many or more good chances than they did. Good spots around in front of the goal. Not able to finish things. It’s a little bit of the first half. We got a little stretched out defensively. We were impatient trying to step out to things, and they were playing between us. Again, it doesn’t make sense on a day like today with a team like this to be getting stretched out, but that’s start with our two forwards starting to initiate pressure too soon which then forces the guys behind them into some sort-of action or movement to try to support them. We got too stretched out. They’re a good team with good players that they can hurt you if you make mistakes. We made too many today. Then, I thought in the second half, there were too many turnovers in bad waves. Again, stretched out, we end up sprinting a lot in the wrong direction trying to recover to make plays defensively. Again, it just hurts your ability to try and attack with any sort-of intensity or speed because you’ve spent so much time running in reverse. That’s just the wrong way. You want to run forward, and you want to keep things in control on the other side. We got split a part in that way too much, but we’ve got two home games in front of us. We knew this was a challenge. We gave some guys a look. I thought some guys did well. I thought Liam (Fraser) did well. I thought it was good to get Ash (Ashtone Morgan) going. His season really hasn’t gotten started. That’s another thing. I think some of the guys who haven’t played a lot were feeling it. They haven’t played 90 minutes in a while. I think they were feeling it a little bit. I thought Richie (Laryea) had another solid right-back performance. I thought there were some positives inside of what was not our best performance as a group. We were also able to rest some guys looking at two home games and what is going to be a busy, difficult stretch.”

On playing a good team as they are hitting their stride:

“Look, they are a good team. I don’t know if it has anything to do with hitting stride, but we gave them the things that they are good at. They are a team that when you give them space to attack through you, they are going to attack fast and they are going to attack through you. They have guys that can hurt you, that is what we talked about before the game. Stay together, don’t give up spaces between us, don’t let them build speed vertically because when they do, I still think that is the best version of them. We conceded too much space for them to attack vertically, especially in transitions. Again, we spend a lot of energy chasing them in the wrong direction.”

On how Atlanta United defended against Alejandro Pozuelo:

“I think he is going to get that all the time, especially if he takes extra touches and he wants to try to make things happen individually. If the ball moves fast in this league, he is going to make teams pay. But this league is a physical league too, so if you take a lot of extra touches, people are going to be physical with you. A lot of times it probably won’t get called because there is a fine line – not even a fine line. A lot of things get by that maybe don’t get by in European leagues. Again, there is that balance of finding the moments to make the big play and finding the moments to just keep the ball moving and let the aggressiveness of the opposition sometimes work against them because the ball moves faster than they do sometimes. I think on a night like tonight, with the way that the night was going, I think he felt like he needed to make a play or a couple plays inside the game. As a result, I think a couple extra touches here or there allowed them to be physical with him that turned into some transitions the other way. It was nothing that was his fault, in terms of the outcome of the game, I think he is trying to impact the game in a positive way.”

 Toronto FC defender Richie Laryea

On the game:

“I think we came in with the right mentality initially, but I think a few things we didn’t execute too well in the final third, and we got punished for it. We had a few good looks that we could have got some goals on. I think the effort and maybe just a lack of quality when we needed it.”

On how he felt he played:

“I felt good. It was nice to get 90 minutes under my belt, but it would have been better obviously to get some points here, but I feel fine.”