New England 1, Atlanta United 0: What was said

Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 clearing the ball during the match against New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday July 17, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)
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Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 clearing the ball during the match against New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday July 17, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Some of what was said following Atlanta United’s 1-0 loss to New England on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

Atlanta United Head Coach Gabriel Heinze:

On the team not scoring in four of its last five matches and if Josef Martinez will return to training: “It’s true that is the statistic. We of course were trying to score a goal in this game. I’m not sure if he (Josef Martinez) could have helped in this game, but he will be joining the team after this game. I need to see how he is right now. We want him fit.”

On eight games without a win and if he’s talked to the executives at the club:

“First, there is no moment with me. The moment is of the club, where I’m the responsible one for absolutely everything. I talk with the President and Sporting Director. In this moment we are right now, it makes me want to keep working more. I don’t want to leave this path. Why? Because I know it. It’s happened before to me. The path was the same and I give it everything I have, all the effort. Let me tell you that this is a good group of players. Possibly, the coach is bad. I truly believe in what I’m doing and I will continue to do the same.”

On if Josef Martinez and the group understand why he is not training with the team:

“Yes, what we talked with Josef, everybody knows. The group is apart from this. It’s my decision that the group is apart from this. And as I said to your colleague, Josef will start tomorrow with the group and we want to see him fit. To clarify, I had a conversation with Josef. Everything that somebody like me decides is with Atlanta as my first thought. After that, the rest. I can tell you how I manage myself. Josef will be back and will help us get through this moment.”

On if he’s worried about his job security:

“That’s an opinion that you said, I can’t answer something that you think. I know my profession very well. I’m not afraid to lose. I’ve been in this for long time and I know the rules very well.”

On the positives he took from tonight’s game:

“I took a lot of positive things from the match today. Because I believe that our team is a competitive team that tried to play. They have a lot of grace on the field. With all the new players, they don’t lose their idea or mentality. The effort they are putting in is something we should be thankful for. When I have those tools, I try to keep them. I’m not concerned about anything outside of this.”

On the attack and if he’s looking to strengthen that in the transfer window:

“Not at all. The “9” position is covered with Josef, Jackson Conway and Cubo Torres. We are creating chances to score. We need to create even more in order to score. I totally understand you guys, it’s normal. But let me tell you that I really believe in this group. Of course, I talk about what I think.”

On his selection of Cubo Torres:

“Do you think because a player doesn’t score, we need to sub him? I don’t think this way in football or outside of football. I like to give a lot of confidence. I like to give the player a lot of support. Let me repeat, Cubo Torres is not the bad one here. I’m the bad one here. You can say that the coach is bad, not the player. I’m not the way that I change a player because he does some bad things, I keep training with that player.”

On the specific reasons Josef Martinez wasn’t allowed to train:

“The reasons are something I only talk about with the player. I think I prefer to keep that in the locker room and with the player. From my side, you will not know.”

On managing this type of situation the club is in:

What I try to do is show how I manage these kind of situations. I’m dealing with this situation the same way. First I prioritize the group of players. Apart from the soccer players, they are the most important thing here. I will keep working the same way. I don’t want to be more inspiration, but I’m going to continue the same way I’ve been doing it before. I hope that what happened in the past, where things improve, will happen here as well.”

On if he feels support from the executive leaders at the club:

Look, I don’t need that support. Because they see what I do day to day. I worry about my players. I talk to Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra every day. I understand the position that they’re in. But they have always been alongside me. They’ve always seen how we do things. I’m not going to change their minds if something happens. I don’t need support. What I plan to do is to keep working. And they have always been with me, so there’s no problem.”

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Alec Kann

On positive takeaways from tonight’s match:

“I think the fight that the group showed, especially after going down a goal, but never giving up. It would have been easy to throw in the towel after going down a goal at home and with everything that has been going on the last couple of weeks, but the guys rolled up their sleeves and created some chances. I thought we played some nice football with some nice combinations through the middle. I thought Amar [Sejdic] came in and did a really good job of connecting front to back and asking for the ball. Guys did not hide out there, so I think we can take that to [FC] Cincinnati and then again at home against Columbus [Crew SC] next weekend.”

On Josef Martinez rejoining the team:

“It cannot hurt. We need people like him to create chances and score goals, and Josef has shown over his time and his body of work that he can do just that. We are ready to have him back and bring back his fire and attitude to the team so that we can score some goals and win some games.”

On why Josef Martinez was training on his own:

“We were not aware of why. I am focused on the 11 guys who played in the game, the subs who came on, and the people who were involved today. I am happy to talk about that.”

On what Josef Martinez can contribute to the current group:

“We need that final touch, that final pass, that Josef has shown that he can provide. Hopefully, he can bring that when he rejoins us.”

On the lead up to the New England goal:

“I have not seen the goal back, so I am not really sure what happened after [Adam Buksa] went on the ground. All I know is that [Gustavo] Bou hit a shot, it was going to my left, got deflected, I was kind of frozen, and it went under my arm.”

On the performance of the back line:

“I thought George [Campbell] and Alan [Franco] were both fantastic. They both wanted the ball and were able to dribble through lines to open New England up a little bit. George was very composed, and I felt that they defended really well, and it is good for me to get some minutes with that group of three knowing that it could potentially be the same group for these next few games.”

On the team blocking out any outside noise:

“Honestly, speaking for myself, I am playing for my career here. I am not worried about what is going on outside of the locker room. I get an opportunity to play games every couple of years, so I am going to enjoy it and put my best foot forward, and I know that the other ten guys that are going to play will do the same. So, that is all noise, and we are not really listening to any of it.”

Atlanta United defender George Campbell

On his first MLS start:

“I was really happy to get my first start. I think first and foremost, just getting the experience to know how it feels out there with the team for a full 90. Getting more minutes for fitness and just experiencing every part of the game, focusing on offense and defense, it was a lot to take in.”

On getting forward with the ball:

“I would say it’s just feeling more comfortable when I’m in the game. It was something I took upon myself when I see it, I just do it. I think it’s natural when you’re more comfortable and I think with more confidence it just comes.”

On the challenges as a center back playing in this system where you’re 1-v-1 a lot and how can the team improve:

“I think with that 1-v-1 part being said, a lot of communication needs to be improved. Obviously, it can be difficult when the stadium is loud but I would say that’s the main thing. Making sure we’re all talking to each other and knowing what’s going on. Being comfortable telling your teammates what to do, so I’d say that’s the biggest challenge.”

On Amar Sejdic and what he’s added to the midfield:

“I think he’s a really good player. Really technical, good on the ball and I think he’s good at helping our team build out and I was really excited to play with him. Before I signed here I was going to (the University of) Maryland where he was so I knew him a bit before but he’s a good player.”

On the confidence in the locker room and if the team feels it can win:

“Yeah, every time we go into the locker room we look to win. Every time the next game happens, we’re not looking at the last result, we’re looking forward. That’s all there is to it. We’re not going to be depleted going into the next game.”

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New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena

On keeping a clean sheet and the return of Wilfrid Kaptoum to the lineup:

“A good shutout. I think, if I’m not mistaken, [Atlanta United] had very few legitimate goal-scoring opportunities. Obviously, a few shots that Brad [Knighton] was able to handle but defensively, we did well. In all fairness to them, they’re missing a couple players, which doesn’t help them. I thought [Wilfrid] Kaptoum, for his first game in a while, played very well in the midfield with Maciel, [Matt] Polster and [Carles] Gil, and did a good job.”

On Adam Buksa and his work rate on Saturday night:

“(Adam Buksa) made a heck of a play that helped create Gustavo (Bou’s) goal. He worked pretty hard, did a good job as the game went on holding the ball up, and was a bit of a nuisance, so he did a good job.”

On DeJuan Jones’ status and Christian Mafla’s fitness:

“Well, [Christian] Mafla played. So, he’s fit, right? [DeJuan] Jones, I don’t know where he stands right now.”

On Gustavo Bou’s expiring contract:

“We haven’t even discussed it at this point to be honest with you.”

On Paul Mariner and the team wearing black armbands to honor his memory:

“Well, I first met Paul [Mariner] in the early 1980s, when he was playing, believe it or not I think the name of the team was the Albany Capitals in the American Soccer League at the time. I watched him play and I was amazed at a person with his pedigree who came to the United States, still had an unbelievable passion for the game, and still wanted to play and I enjoyed watching Paul play in his last years of his playing career. Getting to know Paul over the years, I can’t think of a more wonderful person. So enjoyable, a great sense of humor, obviously a brilliant person in terms of the game. I thought for the games, I don’t recall exactly the games he broadcasted for the Revolution, but I remember watching them, the games that I coached. I thought his insight was simply outstanding. He was a great football person. I know everyone around the Revolution will miss him greatly, and he did a lot, not only for this team, but in this sport in the country to have people of his background come in and support the sport and help the sport grow. And I think it was wonderful that we could at least recognize Paul tonight, because he’s a special person.”

Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton

On honoring Paul Mariner by wearing black armbands:

“Yeah, I’m going to get tripped up just talking about it. Paul [Mariner] was the first coach that brought me into the Revolution back in 2007 and he really taught me kind of how to be a professional day in and day out. He brought me on under his shoulder and just showed me the life of a pro, how to come about it every single day, to train hard and work hard. We became really close friends after he was my coach and we stayed in close contact. I spoke to him probably two or three months ago, it was the last time I spoke to him, and he just said, ‘I love you and keep praying for me and I’m going to stay strong.’ Wearing the armband for him tonight, like you said, was just something special and hopefully I can wear it again the next time I play and honor him because he meant so much to me. He was a big part of me getting my career started and he followed me throughout my career. He is just such a good person. His family’s great, his kids are great, and I just feel so bad for their family right now. But I know he’s up there watching us right now, praying for us, and he’s with us in spirit.”

On keeping a clean sheet for the first time since May 29:

“It was a great team performance. Like you said, we’ve kind of been leaking goals the last couple weeks, it’s not from one way or the other, it’s just unfortunate circumstances. Last week, me getting my first start in front of the home crowd and the way that started, it wasn’t ideal. But to bounce back like I did and like the team did on the road in a tough environment, it was great for this team and it showed a lot of character in this team, what we’re all about, and hope to continue moving that forward.”

On his preparation over the past week:

“Yeah, it meant a lot. Obviously, not playing a game for over a year, you can throw excuses wherever you want, it was just a mental mistake. Things happen in our position. You see them all over the world. They happen in the (UEFA European Championship), they happen in preseason friendlies, they happen everywhere. It’s just your mindset and how you can bounce back from that. Our goalkeeping coach, Kevin Hitchcock, has done a fantastic job working with me this past week trying to get me mentally ready, kind of take that for what it was, and keep building on the foundation that I’ve laid here. That’s what I was looking to do this week. Usually, you’d like to get back in between the sticks sooner rather than later, but we had that 10-day layoff, so it was a little bit more time to kind of think about it. But it helped me kind of reset, recharge, and go back again and have a nice week of training here leading up to the game this weekend.”

On how important the victory was for the team:

“It was going to be a tough performance for us. We knew that coming in here, it was going to be a tough environment, but we needed to roll our sleeves up and show what kind of team we’re going to be this year. Like you said, the results over the last couple weeks haven’t been in our favor and for one reason or another we haven’t started games properly, but I thought we started tremendous today. The guys in front of me were great. We had high energy coming from the start of the game and it led right through to the 94th minute. So, a testament to the guys in front of me and they did a hell of a job. Hopefully, we can carry that through and capitalize on another three points away on Wednesday.”

On Christian Mafla:

“You said it right there, personality. Christian [Mafla’s] one of the most lively, bubbly, charismatic guys in our locker room. Wherever the party is, that’s where he is. But he’s trained hard. He’s been unfortunate a couple times this year. He’s worked his way back into the team and then he’s picked up a knock here and there which has kind of set him back. He’s high on life and he’s quite a vivacious guy. It was nice to see him step in, get some minutes, and feel comfortable in there. He’s got a lot of talent, so I know he’ll step in and do a great job whenever he’s called on.”

On Matt Turner and Tajon Buchanan facing each other in the Concacaf Gold Cup:

“I actually just got on FaceTime with Matt, like literally two seconds ago. He called us and said, ‘Congratulations.’ I know he was watching the game and it’s going to be a heck of a game tomorrow. We’re all looking forward to it. I don’t know who’s cheering for who, but I think a lot of us will be cheering for the U.S. obviously. But it’ll be great to see those two go at it. They go at it every single day of training and I’m looking forward to watching it tomorrow afternoon.”

Revolution Midfielder Wilfrid Kaptoum

On re-joining the Starting XI for the first time since May 22:

“First and foremost, I’m very happy that we came away with three points in my first start on the road, outside of Gillette Stadium. I feel very good. I think that’s why the coach chose to start me today, to help the team continue playing well and get three points.”

On playing alongside Maciel and Matt Polster in the midfield:

“I felt very good because in the end, Maciel and Matt Polster are very good controlling the ball and they are good players defensively, too. So, I felt very protected alongside my teammates, with Carles [Gil] who plays very well in the middle of the field, too. I feel very good, I think, and the team does, too.”

On dealing with minor injuries throughout the season and how he feels now:

“It’s a question of adapting to the competition. I know that I’ve had some problems physically, but I’ve left those in rearview mirror. I’m trying to keep improving and do what I need to do to help the team reach its objectives.”

On the importance of today’s victory after a three-game winless stretch:

“The three points are always important, no? Especially after a loss. I think this gives us confidence for the next upcoming game. I think this helps us continue moving forward because the more you win the closer you are to the objective. That’s how we will continue moving forward.”

On what Adam Buksa brings as a target in the attack:

Kaptoum: “[Adam] Buksa is forward who is very potent physically. He gives us that aerial option that we need in the center and on corners, and in restarts. He’s a very necessary player for us, both him and Gustavo [Bou]. They are players who understand one another well and are complementary each other. They both have goals, which is what we need most in order for us to win games.”