Post-Match Quotes | ATL vs CHI

  • Match: Atlanta United FC vs Chicago Fire
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: June 1, 2019
  • Final Score: ATL 2-0 CHI (Recap | Highlights)

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

On if the timing of the international break:

“I think in the last couple of weeks, we talked about this stretch that we had with a lot of games and you saw during the game that people were really tired. (Chicago) had the same schedule this last week, so I think it was quite fair to both teams. I think they need a little break right now. Normally you would think ‘we want to continue in this rhythm,’ but I think they really deserve a break and focus on the U.S. Open Cup.”

On how the team is progressing:

“I think there is always space to improve, and we have to. We are progressing, we are taking steps forward. Sometimes we play really good, and this was a game with a lot of character. You want to see those elements in your team, so that was very positive for me to see that they can suffer and work and get a good result out of it. I’m happy where we are right now, but we still have plenty to improve. Players are still maybe not on the level that they can be, and hopefully, they can build up their strength in this rest period and people coming back (from injury) of course. We can only get better, I think, but we have to work very hard for it every time. They have to realize if you want to reach something, you have to work very hard. Then, we can’t be afraid of anybody. If we work hard, then the quality will be decisive.”

On if he has put his stamp on the club:

“Yeah. Normally, I always say after six months, you see things that you think, ‘Yeah, these are things we discussed, this is what I want to see from my team.’ I think we see that already. We are playing much more compact when we don’t have the ball, when we cannot press. We are feeling much more comfortable on the ball. We know what our role is from each individual player in his position. Football is always about small details, and we want to improve. Every time we can react when a team plays a different system, and I don’t have to say anything, they already know, ‘Okay, they play like this. We are going to play like this. This is going to be my role.’”

On what he wants to see Atlanta United improve upon:

“In the game, it is always 90 minutes (and) recognize the moments. For me, football is a lot about transition, and you have to recognize those moments. Of course, we are in a quite good position to attack, but I think our (defensive) position we can probably do that better and recognize those moments. Football, normally, is always (a game) where mistakes will decide (the outcome if) a team will win, draw or lose, and we have to try and minimize those things. They have to get that feeling and understand that if I do this, we will be a very hard team to beat.”

On Pity Martinez’s performance tonight and if ‘it was his best game this season’:

“Yeah. I think he’s still not there where he can be, but he works very hard. He’s always challenging one-against-one. He won his drills, sometimes. He was creative. He gave a good assist for the first goal, so yeah, I think he’s improving a lot, and so, I’m very happy with his performance. Also, defensively, coming back into his position when the ball is on the other side. Of course, that’s not normally the quality that he wants, but yeah, it’s, especially, in this position where he’s at right now, yeah, it’s his kind-of responsibility for that. I think he did a very good job today.”

On the progression of United defenders Miles Robinson and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez:

“They’ve been very good the past two games. I think Miles made one mistake in the first half but he also recovered. They are doing a great job together and very concentrated. They are truly defenders. They have speed, height, force, and strength. They are typical defenders. I’m very happy what they show. Miles can still improve a lot and Leandro is more experienced. If he plays very concentrated, he’s one of the best center backs in the league.”

On Julian Gressel’s role:

“I’m very happy with his performance and also his work rate in the midfield. That’s very important. He’s quite multi-functional and can play on the wing. He always has to have support when he is playing on the wing, and now, he can make runs behind the last line, drop a little bit, and play the ball outright coming into the box.”

On the team having an open roster spot:

“Of course, we are interested in adding good players. It has to fit the salary cap and the rules we have here. We would add someone who we think could step in directly rather than waiting one year to adapt.”  

Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez 

On the win and scoring two goals:

“I feel good. I think the team played well, and it was important because we played against a good team, a team that has been playing well lately and tonight, they came here to play, so it was against a tough opponent. The goals are coming, and we are back on top of the table, so for that, we are happy.”

On how he said in March that when the first goal comes, the next one would follow:

“I have to thank my teammates for that as well. We had a complicated start to the season, but now we are playing well and the goals are starting to come. Now, it is time to go play with the (Venezuelan) National Team. As a forward, I think it is my job to score and as I have said before, I get mad when I am not scoring. That is my mentality always, is to score and do my job for the team.”

On his expectations for the upcoming friendly vs. Mexico and against Tata Martino:

“We still have a few days before that match. Right now, I’m going to go home and enjoy this win with my family and some friends that came from Venezuela. I’m sure it’s going to be a nice meeting. It’s always important to play for the National Team. We know we have big things coming for Venezuela.”

On celebrating the same way should he score against the ‘Tata’-coached Mexican National Team:

“Yeah, of course. Whether it is against the United States, Mexico, or Argentina, it does not matter. The people call me ‘King,’ right?”

On entering the Copa America on a scoring streak:

“I do not know. We will have to see what happens. I will tell you after the first game I play when I get back.”

On what Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has meant to him the past three years:

“(Tata) gave a lot to me, to the team, and to the city. I think he gave all the players confidence, and he made us all believe in ourselves, and he gave a lot to us, so we tried to give a lot back to him. I think that is why we won a Championship, so I think it will be a nice game that he is coming back to Atlanta. We have to enjoy it, because this is his home, it has always been his home, and he deserves it.”

On what it means to him to represent Venezuela in Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“It is going to be special because this is my home, so it is going to be a little strange to put on a different jersey in this stadium, but to wear the National Team jersey here means a lot. We have to enjoy this game, so I am going to try and enjoy it, and I hope the fans enjoy it as well. You know, memories last a lot longer than your career, so when you are done playing, these are the memories that you look back on that you have.”

On whether he prefers number 7 or 17:

“My favorite number is 10pm at night, because that is when my grandmother gives me arepas.”

On the opportunity to play for the Venezuelan national team in Atlanta:

“It’s going to be special because this is my home so it’s going to be a little strange to put on a different jersey in this stadium. It means a lot to wear the national team jersey. We have to enjoy this game so I’m going to enjoy this game and I hope the fans do as well. Memories last a lot longer than your career. When you’re done playing at the end of your career, these are the moments that you look back on.”

 On his improvement within the last month:

“I don’t know, but you look at Luis Suarez for example, and he has a season where he doesn’t score in the Champions League, but nobody says anything. That’s just how it is as a player. Sometimes, you don’t score. Sometimes you score 15 goals in 15 games. The most important thing is that you can never get down on yourself as a player. You just have to keep fighting, working hard, and have confidence in yourself. We know we had a bad start to the season. Now, we’ve started to pick it up and the goals are coming. It’s important for us to keep it up and hopefully the goals will still come as well.”

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On the eighth clean sheet of the season:

“Credit to the guys in front of me. Again, it was a good performance. Actually winning games that we’ve had—the few rest days that we’ve had, to put together the performance that we did tonight—we knew it was going to be a hard game, and it certainly was, but to come away with three points was huge.”

On the upcoming break:

“More than physically, I think mentally, you use this time to recharge mentally. To make sure that if you have any little nagging injuries you get rid of them, you take care of yourself, but mentally, it’s important to make sure that we come back strong.”

On his plans over the break:

“Yeah, we’ll see. I got two little ones, but I’m sure we’ll get away somewhere. You know, everyone’s different, but it’s just important that we use this time as a positive so that when we come back, we can continue this good form and the good run that we’re on.”

On the defense’s improved form:

“I think just our organization. Our ability—especially early on in the season, we were conceding chances that were clear cut chances that, similar to what Josef (Martinez) had tonight, in this league, when you give those types of chances to players like Josef (Martinez), like the quality strikers that are in this league, they’re going to punish you. As of late, we’ve been remedying those chances and making it difficult on strikers and on teams to come in and really break us down. We’ve been good with the ball, and when you’re good with the ball and protect it and you don’t turn it over carelessly, good things happen.”

On better standing in the table:

“Listen, there’s a lot of soccer to be played, a lot of football still. It is what it is—the table. It is what it is. You guys read into that stuff a lot more than we do. We certainly know the amount of work that’s gone in to preparing for these games and obviously getting the results that we’ve had. It means nothing if we don’t come back from this break and pick up where we left off.”

On increased activity in this match:

“We knew it was going to be a tough game. Chicago is a good team; they’ve got a lot of attacking options, a lot of attacking pieces. Their movement was very good. Probably just didn’t have the final pass, the final ball, whatever it may be, but also, I put a lot credit to the guys in front of me on our side. It is what it is. When you’re involved physically, you’ve got to come up with the goods and make a save or two. Other nights it’s only once or twice. We’re on a good run, but like I said, it means nothing if we come back from this break, and we throw it all away.”

Atlanta United FC defender Leandro González Pirez

On going to sleep tonight at the top of the table:

“Yes. The truth is we’re happy. We didn’t have the start that we all wanted, but with this streak of games we were able to catch up to the rest of the teams, and, luckily for today, we (will) sleep in first place.”

On the break:

“It’s going to do us well because we can recover physically. We’ve played eight games in 27 games which is a ton. We had very positive results. We won six and lost two, so, in general lines, it went very well. Now, we can try to recover and start over again with a different panorama.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On if he feels ready for a break after this stretch of games:

“Yeah, I think so. Over the past month, we have earned it. There have been a couple of tough games in there, but to finish strong the way we did this week, I think everybody is going to enjoy their time off this week.”

On being back near the top of the standings in the East:        

“I think we always knew we had it in us, but I think we have a lot of talent in the locker room. It was just about making it work. It’s been good team performances, to get shutouts it’s always a team performance, but you have had individuals step up and have good games. Josef (Martinez) scoring is always a big thing for Atlanta United. He’s doing that right now. It’s good to be where we are right now.”

On getting an eighth shutout on the season:

“It’s a team performance. We defend as a team more than we ever have. We don’t defend with five or six, we defend with 10 or 11 guys. I think Brad (Guzan) has been huge in a lot of these games. I think he deserves a lot of credit, especially this past Wednesday night making the save when the game was tight. It’s a team performance and to defend as a team is great right now.”

On what the break will look like for him:

“I’m going to be going away. You won’t find me (laughs), although you probably will.”

On having control of the game despite 50-50 possession:

“It’s about creating chances with the possession. Lots of teams now when they play against us, they get to about 40 yards from goal and they run into a lot of bodies, running out of space. I don’t know if all their possession was forward possession, but they are a good team. They have a lot of talented players that enjoy being on the ball, so it’s not a surprise that it’s a 50-50 possession game.”

Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson

On being a member of Atlanta United FC:

“It is definitely an honor to be a part of this team, and the fact that we are playing well at the moment is pretty nice, so it has been good so far.”

On the atmosphere during home matches:

“It is definitely awesome. Obviously, you always play better at home, playing in front of your crowd, and again, it is an honor to be a part of it.”

On his favorite part about playing for Atlanta United FC:

“It has to be days like this and the crowd. 70,000 (fans) here, and there are plenty of teams across the world that do not get these crowds. It is just pretty awesome.”

On the play of the defense this season:

“We are pretty organized at the moment, so that is nice. (Chicago Fire) definitely had chances to score, but they did not capitalize, which is one thing, but just over all I thought we played pretty well.”

On how he thinks the defense can improve:

“There is always room to improve, but it is just a matter of limiting the chances of the opposing team, and I thought we did that pretty well today. Overall, not bad.”

On his biggest area of improvement this year:

“I think when you have more games, and get more experience, you get to know the league more, your teammates more, and that is what has happened to me earlier this season. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had.”

On consistently playing alongside Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and being mentored by him:

“There are veterans across the field, so it does not have to be one player. Obviously, I am learning a lot from all the guys on the team, and just being exposed to a full 90 minutes every game so far has been good.”