What was said: Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) dribbles the ball through a gauntlet of FC Cincinnati defenders Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) dribbles the ball through a gauntlet of FC Cincinnati defenders Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Atlanta United

Some of what was said after Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Cincinnati on Wednesday:

Atlanta United Interim Head Coach Rob Valentino:

On what the team worked in training in the short time since Valentino took over:

“To be honest, like I said to you guys before, there’s a lot of things I didn’t want to change. There’s a lot of things I thought they’ve done very well. These guys have put in a tremendous amount of work in the past. These things don’t happen overnight and performances like that are building blocks from what they’ve done before. I try to continue on some of the things they’ve done that I feel like I can add as a coach. But I’m also a different coach. I will coach in different ways because it’s just the way it goes, right. But we worked on certain ways that we thought we could control space defensively and different ways that we thought we could go and attack at them. The boys put in a really good shift. Honestly, the work that they put in is commendable. I’m so proud of them. I feel like they’ve done the club proud and done the city proud. I’m looking forward to coming home on Saturday.”

On starting Ronald Hernández at left back:

“I felt like, one, he’s an unbelievable kid. It was a tough decision there too because you got Mikey Ambrose that pushes that side as well. He’s deserving as well. There’s a lot of guys that you can argue that could get a chance, so from that standpoint. I mean, in the Copa America when he was away, he played on that left side. I thought in terms of just the match up of this game, with the way Gyau has got speed. I thought they’d have the kid Barreal out there. I thought he’d do pretty well with the physical part. I thought at this moment he deserved the opportunity. Whether he’s left footed or right footed, I thought we could still manage the game with him in that sense. And then, he goes and scores a goal, which I didn’t expect. Hats off to him. It’s a moment he deserves.”

On how he manages the game to earn points as well as managing individual performances:

“It was something as the game started to progress, obviously didn’t plan on them scoring first. That wasn’t part of the game plan, but when it happened, I thought we were already going to make the changes that we made at that time right after the goal. Didn’t make them quick enough, but I don’t think that changed anything. I don’t think that was the reason. In terms of the way I thought they impacted the way of the game, I thought, especially with the subs, we could go and win this game. At Atlanta United, we talk about winning games. These are moments when we’re on the road, when we’re at home it’s just picking up points. I think the game, the way it played out and I talked to the staff and when we got the goal, I said, ‘Do we manage this or do we push it?’ I wanted to push it as long as we could. There was a moment that I thought we might not. Even at the end, I just didn’t know if I have it in me to sit back. I feel like the club doesn’t care if you win 7-4, they don’t want it to be not exciting. So, I thought let’s go push it and see what we got. The boys are the ones that push it. I’m on the sideline. I can only do so much. That’s a long-winded answer. But I thought there were moments where we talked to the staff because I wanted to win this game. I wanted to win it for them. I want them to get this glory, but, at some point, we will settle for the point and do what we have to with that. The performance is what we’re looking at.”

Atlanta United Interim head coach Rob Valentino walks out onto the pitch before the match against FC Cincinnati Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United Interim head coach Rob Valentino walks out onto the pitch before the match against FC Cincinnati Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Atlanta United Goalkeeper Alec Kann

On what Rob Valentino has brought to the team:

“I think a lot of energy. He’s a guy we really want to fight for. He’s a good guy that has a lot of relationships with the guys in the locker room that are preexisting for a of couple years. He’s a guy that we respect, and we know how he works, how hard he works, how much he cares about us. That’s the kind of manager you want to go to war for.”

On what Kann sees in Valentino as a head coach:

“It’s definitely a different role for him. Everyone is watching everything he does now, which probably hasn’t been the case in the past. I think he’s handled himself with a lot of composure and class, which is what I would expect from him. He’s calm, he brings that to our group. At the same time, he’s got us fired up and wanting to run through a wall for him before a game. I think you could see that in the way we played over the course of the 90 minutes.”

On his perspective of the open play in the game:

“I think Cincinnati, that’s kind of how a lot of their games have been. They get kind of separated with their back six and front four. They kind of just float around. I thought, for the most part, we did a pretty good job managing a dangerous front four. We created a ton of chances. More than in the previous two games that I’ve played in combined. So, I think that’s a huge positive. We gave up a few chances as well, but I think that’s a risk we’re willing to take to get the final product at the end of it.”

Atlanta United’s winless streak reached nine games as it comes away with a 1-1 draw at Cincinnati.

Atlanta United defender Ronald Hernández

On his goal and the emotions after scoring

“Yes, I’m very happy to score my first goal with Atlanta and even more to be able to help the team, especially in this situation that we’ve been through. I’ve been watching games from the outside and I knew of Brooks Lennon’s ability on the right wing and how he’s always sending good crosses and I always had the faith to get in the box and be able to shoot.”

On if he felt like the team was playing with more freedom and aggression because it seemed like the team was creating more chances than in past games

“Yes, of course. Now that we have a new coach, he’s asking different things from us and gives us a little more freedom to enjoy ourselves on the field and I think you can see the difference with all the guys involved and the substitutes and I want to say that we never gave up during the whole game.”

On scoring his first club goal and his second goal in his last three games (including Copa America)

“I just always believe in myself. Hard work always pays off. You know my situation, the last couple months just trying to work as hard as I can to be ready when the opportunity comes and it’s a good feeling and nice after this game.”

On not having been able to play much in the last couple years

“Yes, of course. I had that excitement when I came to Atlanta United to have that consistency in my play and you guys know what happened. So, like I said before, I believe in myself and know my quality. I know how much I’ve been waiting for the opportunity so I can’t let it go too easy. We have a wonderful squad now with wonderful players. We still have to improve some stuff but tonight we gave a lot of positive stuff out there.”

On if he’s had to fight during the last months for this opportunity

“Yes, my teammates at the club and the people at the club know how I work every day. I haven’t had a chance but I never stopped believing.”

On the moment that he’s going through, playing with the national team at Copa America and coming back to score another goal

“Yes, especially given that last year and this year I haven’t played regularly. Those moments being on the outside helped me to mature much quicker and knowing that when I got a chance I had to show that I’m here and that I can help the team. I think I’ve done well and I’ll keep working.”

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE