Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs MNU

  • Match: Atlanta United FC vs Minnesota United
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: May 29, 2019
  • Final Score: ATL 3-0 (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

On making changes in midfield and how those changes affected the game:

“I think both (Julian Gressel in the middle, Pity Martinez on the right) did a great job playing different positions. I know that Pity is a player that can play like a No. 10, but from the right coming in on his left foot he can make smart passes or shoot on goal. He can be very dangerous doing that as well. Looking towards the opponent, we thought that they would play in a 4-2-3-1 system. We didn’t want to give players like (Osvaldo) Alonso much freedom, so Julian and his work rate is great in that position. I think it went well, especially in the beginning, but overall we can be proud of what everybody achieved tonight.”

On Franco Escobar’s performance and the team overall tonight:

“Franco had a great performance, great game. Against a team who wants to drop deep, you have to have wingbacks or fullbacks who support the attack. He is the modern type of fullback that can go up and down for 90 minutes. He showed it today. On his goal, Pity makes the run inside and the ball slips to Franco and he scores a fantastic goal. This is what we want from our fullbacks. Sometimes, they have to come in the midfield. But yeah, this is how we want to play. Recognize the moments where we have to stand, and the shape has to be well. Tonight, for the first hour of the match we had good control. That was very pleasing to see.”

On the Minnesota United FC attack:

“They had a philosophy with five in the back, three in midfield and two up front. They did that for a reason. They want to drop deep, and then with good passing, they wanted to beat us on the counter attack. I think we solved that problem really well. Miles (Robinson) and Leandro (Gonzalez Pirez) did a great job. When we played with Darlington (Nagbe) as a controlling midfielder, he helped out otherwise it would have been 1-on-1 in the back. That’s hard because we have a lot of space behind, but our defense did a great job covering that space well.”

On if there is added urgency to winning on Saturday with International break coming up:

“I just told the players, this is the spirit that we want to see every game. I know it’s difficult. We have already played a lot of games. Now, we have two days rest before Saturday against a good team like Chicago. This is what we want to see, this is what our fans want to see. Like Brad (Guzan) blocking those shots with passion, everybody was there. You had a feeling that tonight’s there wasn’t going to be a goal going in. Everybody was working for each other. At the last minute, Eric Remedi made a sprint and Josef Martinez took over his position. That’s what you want to see from the team. Today was for me, a very good example of what we can do. We didn’t really make any silly mistakes, and you see how we can control the game much better.”

On Dion Pereira’s performance and his aggressiveness tonight:

“Yeah, that’s why we put him in the team. He’s one of the best going one-v-one on our roster. He has the pace and good technique. His work rate today, and the last games was tremendous. He was a constant threat for the opponent. Very pleased for him. He has to continue that aggressiveness, not just be a beautiful player. In a game, in every league, you have to do more. What are you doing when you don’t have the ball. Now, he understands that better, and it’s nice to see him picking that up. He’s listening to the players and staff, and his rewards is getting the playing time these last couple of games.”

On tonight’s transition defense, which was identified as a spot for improvement earlier this week:

“I really was satisfied tonight. They really understood it. You have to know when to press, when not to press. Drop deep and come together and choose your moments again. We did that much much better tonight. When somebody has time and you press, everybody is too late, and you get a domino effect across the field.”

On his approach to the U.S. Open Cup in regards to personnel:

“We take everything very seriously here and we want to go very far in the U.S. Open Cup. But, we are going to probably miss some players. Other players have to be ready. Of course, I will rotate some players, but still we have to be in shape. Normally the play is week after week, so they can have a normal break and still be prepared for that game. I want to be with a strong team, but I may be forced to make some changes.”

On Hector Villalba missing the Copa America through injury:

“He’s still not full recovered, so that’s a normal thing. It’s a very delicate injury, when you think you can do everything, then you block a shot and the injury is back. We have to be very precautious about that. It’s a pity for him to miss Copa America, but for us it’s good. Hopefully, when the league starts, maybe  the second U.S. Open Cup game he can be 100% again.”

Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez 

On how happy he feels scoring his seventh and eighth goals:

“Good because I had a lot of chances to score and I didn’t. For a forward it’s difficult when you score and you try, and try, and try and it doesn’t come. And after two losses that goal you can enjoy more. Especially on the second when I was walking and the ball arrived like a glass of rum without me having ordered it and for that we’re happy.”

On what happened on his second goal:

“Leandro (Gonzalez Pirez) clears the ball, and the defender tries to give it to a teammate, and I was there waiting, so thank you.”

 On his celebration:

“You have to change. We’ll see if it’s lucky, right. It came to me.”

On his various chances and then taking advantage in the second half:

“Many times one remains with the feeling of missing. Someone once told me that this is like a game of tennis. If you miss one, you can’t let that stay with because a tennis game lasts a long time. You have to wait for the next one. I knew I would get one chance. I got two. I’m happy for that. Now, I have to get home because the kids are waiting for me. That’s the best thing I can do now. We can’t get too happy because in a couple days, we have another game.”

On Dion Pereira’s performance as a young player:

“We don’t have to talk about him being a young player. From my perspective, he had a great game. He did was asked of him, what he wanted, and he has to stay on that path. He can’t think that because he had a good game that he can relax. In soccer, sometimes, you have good games and sometimes you have bad games, but the important thing is to always keep your head level and keep working, and I’m sure he’ll continue to give 100 percent.”

On how different the feeling is winning 1-0 or winning 3-0 tonight:

“Winning 1-0, 5-0, 10-0 is the same. If I score the one goal then I’m happy, but you can never put your head down. They kept going for it and had a chance and didn’t take it. We relaxed a little in the last 10 minutes and luckily were given two balls. We have to think the same way from the first minute to the 95th. This team can’t keep thinking that we were champions last year. A lot of people are still celebrating that title but that isn’t the way. The way is to win every game.”

On the upcoming game against Mexico and the kind of ovation he and Tata will get in front of the home crowd:

“Tata gave me a lot. That’s why I get emotional because aside from our coach he was like a father. I think the ovation will be for him, and I hope it’s for him. I think he gave this city a lot. Things that many important people haven’t done and for that he deserves it and much more. Beyond the game, I hope people come and say goodbye to him like he deserves and welcome him like he deserves. I don’t think he had the best goodbye, even though he won a championship. But, as a person, he deserves more, and we have to enjoy that game.”

On how Miguel said last year that Josef is Atlanta and the energy in the stadium when he’s scoring

“I don’t know if it’s because the fans got used to that but that’s my job. We won a lot of games in moments where I scored. This isn’t about who I am or not. For me Miguel was better than anyone. This is about a team. I think that’s my job. And when I don’t score I’m not happy. Today I’m happy because we gave the fans the joy they all hoped. Many people don’t know but today in the first half fans were shouting at me “Josef why aren’t you scoring?” They love you when you score, and if you don’t then they don’t. That’s the unfortunate thing about soccer.”

On how he does deserve an ovation for the goals that’s he’s scored and helping win a championship

“A coach once told me, ‘People have a short memory. Unfortunately people have a short memory and they don’t remember what you’ve given them.’ That happens everywhere. One always tries to give their best. Some people accept you and value you and many people come to the stadium to drink beer and criticize the players. This team, in three years, has given much more than any sport in the history of this city. Any. Any of you guys tell me anyone who has done it. It would be unfair to criticize Atlanta United for a good game or a bad game or when someone does scores or doesn’t. We always try our best. I get mad at teammates when they don’t give me a pass, and they pay me to give a pass.”

Atlanta United FC defender Michael Parkhurst

On Minnesota United FC forwards Abu Danladi and Darwin Quintero subbing off in the midway through the second half:

“I think that shows that they weren’t effective enough, and that was probably down to Miles (Robinson) and Leandro (González Pirez) for the most part because those guys were very good on one-on-ones today. They read the balls behind, and they made it really difficult for those guys—and those guys are very good players so, kudos to our center backs because that’s a tough task.”

On how he feels about the rapid succession of matches as of late:

“Similar to everybody else, pretty tired. We’re excited that we’re towards the end of it, but we can’t look past the last one. We talk about how these six points were really important, especially coming off the last two losses, in particular the way that we lost, just disappointing losses, both of them. So big opportunity with these two games, so we take advantage tonight, and hopefully, we can go out and take advantage on Saturday because that will make the vacation a little sweeter.”

On how mindset changes to due recent games and the potential of going into the second half of the season with two-win streak:

“Yeah, I think so. It would put us in a good spot, both mentally and in the table as well. That’s why it’s (Chicago) an important game. You’d hate to have a bad performance or bad result going into a long break. We want to try to avoid that. We want to try to build off this game. It’s a tough task. It’s 72 hours away, and guys need to recover as best as possible and maybe get some fresh limbs in there.”

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan 

On what this means for the team coming off a road trip:

We talked about before the game that it didn’t matter. At the end of the 90 minutes, we needed to get three points. It was never a three-nil game, but that’s probably just the icing on the cake to score an extra three goals. When you’re only winning the game one-nil you have a few chances. The goalkeeper for them makes a few saves for them, of course, you’re going to be a little on edge, it probably comes down to us not managing the game as well as we should have. But ultimately, three points, that’s all that mattered.”

On his sequence of saves in the 74th minute:

“I’ve seen it back once. I think it crosses in toward the near post. The guy gets a touch, or we get a touch, but it falls to him. I’m able to make a block after it comes off my knee. I think, I’m almost positive, it hits his hands which is why I think we were all going a little crazy. From there, it just ping-pong ball in and around the six-yard box just trying to keep it out of the goal. Fortunately, we were able to do that.”

On if he gets any bonuses in his contract for assist:

“Everyone keeps telling me about this assist. I don’t even know what goal it happened on. I think it’s going to get taken away. Did that come from me? I don’t know, if not, I should put that in for next time.”

On the last time he saw Josef Martinez play like he did tonight:

“Probably like a week ago. Listen, the guy doesn’t like to lose. It’s why he’s so competitive. It’s why he’s so lethal in the box. He probably could have had two more tonight. When you give him the chances he had tonight he’s going to score. [I am] Pleased for him. It’s important we keep him active, especially in and around the box, tonight was a good game.”

On the urgency for the game against Chicago Saturday before heading into the break:

“No, we talked about going into tonight and into Saturday finishing this stretch of games on a positive note. This game was one step in a positive direction. We got to make sure come Saturday we finish it off and get another three points. The East is tight. One or two games, this way or that way, can certainly move you up a few places or move you down a few places. There is a lot of soccer to be played still, but for us, it’s important that we take care of business at home.”

On his coach praising the versatility of the players:

“There are still moments where we could have been better. For example, the 90th minute we get a corner kick and instead of just playing it short and probably just keeping it—we’re having to run 90 yards the other way until someone makes a foul at midfield. Those are just careless moments when we don’t have to expend that amount of energy and put out that danger if we are smarter when we have the ball. We know the talent and quality we have in this locker room – there’s no question about that. It’s a matter of executing for 90 plus minutes.”

On his thoughts of Aston Villa:

“Yeah, buzzing for them. Couldn’t be more excited for them. Good people at the club, behind the scenes. I still talk to a few of the guys that are there from when I was there. Couldn’t be more excited so congrats to everyone involved with the club and all the supporters.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On positioning in tonight’s game:

“Yeah, we also moved Eric (Remedi) up with me a little bit so I wasn’t alone on that turn. The way they played forced him to stay a little more deeper. I think with Pity (Martinez) we got him on the ball in good spots. I thought I got on the ball in good spots in the first half as well. Maybe I do a bit more running in there to kind of shuffle things around, where Pity is more of like a stationary guy. I thought it worked pretty good.”

On his ability to create space:

“I figured to kind of just be a guy that’s going to find open pockets on the side of (Osvaldo) Alonzo. I know that he’s not the youngest anymore so he might not be able to move really side-to-side. If Eric (Remedi) and Darlington (Nagbe) - like they did - stay deep I can create holes on the side, and I think we saw that on the first goal. I get the ball from Parky (Michael Parkhurst) in wide-open space, and I can turn and then come inside and try to slip it in, and it gets a good deflection to Franco (Escobar) and he finishes it off great.”

On tonight’s performance:

“Today was definitely better. I thought we were sharper in general just kind of moving the ball quick and then sharing it, maybe having Pity (Martinez) out wide and then with Dion (Pereira) going one-on-one and it just worked pretty well today. It’s obviously something we will hopefully continue. I thought we had some good chances - even before we scored a second one that late - where Josef (Martinez) hits the post and a couple shots get blocked like that. Overall, I thought it was a good performance.”

On Atlanta United defender Dion Pereira’s performance: 

“It was good. I think when he gets a bit of confidence, and he beats him the first time and then he goes again, and beats him a second time. You can see that. He grows into the game. Even the first half, where he has him one-on-one even if it’s combining around his player. I thought he did a really good job.”

Atlanta United defender Dion Pereira

On his growth since the Real Salt Lake match:

“I think it was a massive improvement from the Real Salt Lake game. Obviously, getting at my man every time, which after the first time was a confidence boost, then just put a ball in the box for Josef (Martinez).”

On how the Real Salt Lake match helped tonight:

“I think minutes with the first team is good, builds my confidence up, and it helped my fitness going into this game as well, so it definitely had a good impact on it.”

On Frank de Boer’s comments about the first handshake:

“I think that is one thing all the managers and everyone was commenting on when I first came here. Back home, when I shake my mate’s hands, it is a lot more aggressive, but it is kind of a respect thing back home. It is just a normal handshake, but here, you are learning every day, ‘Get physical, physical,’ and it starts with the handshake.”

On his one-on-one ability: 

“To be fair, my teammates just tell me every time to get at the defenders, get at them. I know in myself, and my teammates know, push me on saying ‘Your ability is amazing, so use it, and it can get us up the pitch, it could create chances and everything, so just do it as much as possible’. I feel like doing that in the game creates a lot more chances, and as a team, we are creating a lot more chances in the recent games as well.”

On playing on the front foot:

“Obviously, when you are attacking more as an attacker, you are loving it, because you do not have to defend as much. For me, personally, I love it because I can just get at my man, get at my man, and know that I have got my defenders behind me and every time the ball comes out, we have got a good lock on, which we have been focusing on during the week. The lock on is obviously paying off, so I get a lot more of one-on-ones.”

On the recent high temperatures:

“A couple of sessions before the Real Salt Lake game, it was very hot. It was hard to breathe, like I had a lot of dry fits, but I got passed it. It is good though.”

On how he feels now compared to early on with ATL UTD 2: 

“There are two main things to be fair. Obviously, I feel a lot more fit. Two, I feel a lot more confident, on the ball, in training, stuff like that. I feel like I am part of the team now, and I have earned my time with the team that I am getting, so luckily, I am getting rewarded for that. In training, I try my best, and in matches, I try my best, and luckily, I am getting rewarded.

On getting more comfortable with his teammates:

“When you go to a new team, it is difficult to start off with, but there are a lot of players on this team that make you feel welcome. It is a very good thing for a youngster coming in, and when you play more with them, you feel more comfortable.”

On the play of Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez:

“I saw a Josef (Martinez) that is back to scoring goals, and it is the best feeling for us. Looking up, our striker has a smile on his face, enjoying it, loving it, and that is what Josef (Martinez) is really, a top goal-scorer. If we can keep giving him the service like we gave him in this game, then, we are going to fly through games.”

On the overall performance of the offense:

“We have been focusing on creating chances throughout the week, and obviously, we only really created a couple chances, but we are just focusing on putting away the chances that we do make. Then, once we get the first goal, we will work on getting the second goal, because whoever gets the second goal can change the whole impact of the game, so as long as we get the second goal it is all fine.”

On if the game felt tense when it was only 1 to 0:

“Yeah, it was, but I think our defense is amazing, and I have full belief in our defense when the opposing team is on the counter-attack. Obviously, as an attacker, it is a tough thing running back towards your own goal, but if it means keeping on the victory, then you have to do it.”

Minnesota United Head Coach Adrian Heath

On game plan versus Atlanta United:

“I thought we executed the plan really well. Apart from the last two goals, we were still right in the game. We stifled them and created an awful lot of chances. I think we looked dangerous in the second half. Obviously, you look at the score line, and the score line looks 3-0. It looks though you’ve been well and truly beaten, but that was far from the case and I thought we were the more likely to get the next goal when they were winning 1-0. Poor goals for the last two to really bad mistakes, and I don’t think we troubled them enough going forward.”

On conceding two goals late:

“Obviously, you can’t legislate for a couple of mistakes that we’ve made. I have spoken about, the last few weeks, we have eradicated a lot of individual errors that have cost us in the past. Tonight, we had a couple of errors, and that’s what happens, they end up in the back of the net against somebody as clinical as Josef Martinez. Overall, I can’t fault the guys for their efforts. I’m pleased with the work they have done and I’m pleased with the shape of the group, I just don’t think we had enough quality in that final third to really take the most of all the little off chances we created.”

On Atlanta United’s Brad Guzan’s multiple saves in the 74th minute:

“I couldn’t see from where I was. It’s strange because everyone thinks it’s really—some of the guys thought it was in, some thought it was on the line, but I thought it was probably close enough for the referee of somebody to have a look at it. Which is a bit strange when it’s that tight.”

On consulting the referees following the close save in the 74th minute:

“I just asked the question, ‘are they going to have a look at it?’ and they didn’t. Obviously, it wasn’t as close as we thought.”

On increased competitiveness and the overall result:

“It’s an important part of the game. I’m never going to complain about people making tackles an important part of the game. I thought we competed really well, as I said, the score line flatters them a little bit. We’ve got a lot of work still to do. Have we got better? Have we improved? Yes, we have. But we still have a long way to go.”

On takeaways from today’s match:

“Well, we’ve played a team that’s very, very good at home, and like you said, in the 74th minute we’re having opportunities to make it 1-1. We’ve come here with a game plan, the players have worked really well, they’ve executed the plan well, I just don’t think we had enough quality for the field.”

On MNUFC’s alternate formation:

“Well, we put an extra defender in to see if we could stop the little channels that Josef (Martinez) likes to run into and I thought that worked quite well. As I said, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the game plan, we just didn’t have enough quality I don’t think on the field tonight.”

Minnesota United defender Brent Kallman

On his overall takeaway from tonight:

“I thought we did what we asked of them. In the first half we were going to defend a little deeper and we were going to look to get them on the break. We just weren’t sharp enough with our movement and our timing in behind in that first half to really break out and get really good chances. We were in the positions to do it we just didn’t execute. We executed the plan. The goal we gave up is a little bit flukey, it takes a deflection, comes to a guy and he makes a good finish. We went into halftime actually feeling okay. We were going to stick to the game plan, stay disciplined and try to get a goal back and if we didn’t then open up later in the game – 75th, 80th minute - and try to get it back.”

On Atlanta’s recent schedule:

“With this being a midweek game and the travel and stuff, we were just worried about getting ourselves ready. We weren’t really worried about their schedule or what they’ve been doing.”

On the intensity of this match:

“There’s always some of that, sometimes matches get escalated and you just got to keep your head about you. When we were here two years ago (Leandro) Gonzalez Pirez swung out at me and hit me and chipped my tooth. You just get on with it. It’s part of the game.”

On taking positives away from this match:

“It’s disappointing. It feels like we absorbed a lot of pressure, especially in the first half, but that was the plan. We executed what they wanted to do; we just weren’t good enough in the transition moments. When we did win it back, the space to get in behind them and go and find our chances and our goals, we didn’t really take advantage of all those situations. I feel like we did execute the game plan, we just weren’t sharp enough in carrying it out.”

On if subbing out the forwards gave Minnesota momentum:

“Yeah, we needed to switch something up. You bring on fresh legs to run against tired defenders. As a defender, it always puts you in a bad situation when you’re starting to get tired and they bring on somebody who’s fast and has got pace and is going to run at you, it’s not a good feeling. So yeah, I think it gave us a little bit of a spark when we were trying to go get the goal.”