May 12, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer (center) and assistant coaches take the bench for the game against Orlando City in a MLS soccer match on Sunday, May 12, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta United’s de Boer: Top clubs don’t air complaints

Frank de Boer said Atlanta United wants to be a top club, and players on top clubs don’t air criticisms to the media such as what Leandro Gonzalez Pirez did Monday in Orlando.

“Everybody knows those comments stay inside,” de Boer said. “If there are doubts or arguments, we talk about it like adults here.”

Gonzalez Pirez said he didn’t like the team’s defensive tactics and that communication sometimes isn’t clear. He later clarified that to mean the formation and tactics de Boer chose earlier in the season. He said he likes how the team is playing after its recent switch to a 3-5-2 formation. De Boer pointed out in its last 10 games Atlanta United is averaging 2.4 goals per game. Gonzalez Pirez also said he has no problems with de Boer and that he thinks they have a good relationship.

De Boer wouldn’t say if Gonzalez Pirez was disciplined. De Boer said Gonzalez Pirez’s comments could have been a result of frustration following last week’s 4-3 loss at LAFC.

“They get emotional,” de Boer said. “You have to also be realistic. If you ask them one week before when we had seven goals and six points, probably you don’t answer that (way.)

“We know how it works in football. We had three players in MLS team of the week. I was coach of the week. This is how it sometimes goes. We have to learn from that.”

De Boer said he constantly communicates with the players and that his door is always open. Midfielder Julian Gressel, who said Gonzalez Pirez should have kept his complaints in-house, said that is true. He said he has come to de Boer at least twice to discuss things. Gressel said the open door is good because sometimes things can get lost in translation from English to Spanish, which he said sometimes happened the previous two seasons when instructions went from Spanish to English under previous manager Gerardo Martino, which also had an open-door policy.

“I talk with every player individually and as a team,” de Boer said. “Sometimes, if they don’t understand, they have to come to me or to the (assistants). That argument wasn’t right, that’s for sure.”

Atlanta United trails first-place Philadelphia by three points and has a game in hand in the MLS East. It is two wins away from its first U.S. Open Cup championship, and will host Club America in the Campeones Cup on Aug. 14 with a chance to earn another trophy.

“We want to improve and want to be on top of every game and at the end also on top of the league, especially in our conference at the end of the season,” de Boer said. “It’s our goal. It’s looking right. We are a team, and we want to be a top team. That means we want to play our best every week.  That’s how top teams work.”

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