Atlanta United defeated Colorado 1-0 on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Atlanta United)
Photo: Carmen Mandato
Photo: Carmen Mandato

Atlanta United 1, Colorado 0: What was said

What was said after Atlanta United’s 1-0 win against Colorado on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (transcript provided by Atlanta United):

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

“You always need two teams to try and play football, but tonight there was only one. We tried to win the game. It’s hard in international football and here when team’s play like this. You have to have a fantastic day, even the bigger teams in Europe have problems against teams that play this kind of system. They park two busses in front of their own goal. So, you saw second half was much better. We made more runs, the second half was much better. It’s difficult to play against this kind of system. I played myself against defensive teams. In the beginning, we had some bounces in the box that didn’t fall our way. If you score an early goal, they have to come out and it’s an open game. They are coming for a result of one point, and with a little luck three points, that’s why I think this victory tastes very sweet. The team that deserved to win tonight got the three points. Sometimes, that’s not always the case. Hopefully, the next opponent will play a little more open, but if not, then we have to adapt. The most important thing is the three points.”

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“I believe the team played with a No. 10 tonight in Gonzalo Martinez. He played like a No. 10 tonight. Maybe it wasn’t his best game, but it doesn’t matter. It was his first start in a long time. He has to get used to the surface and style of play in MLS. He’s our No. 10 normally, and we want him close to Josef Martinez. They have a good combination, and hopefully in the future, we will see a lot more of that combination play.” 

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“It’s very difficult. I told them that I’ve played against this type of system myself in the past, and it’s hard to break down. So, we have to have patience. Don’t just run in front of the ball, let the ball do the job. Try go from left to right, and if it doesn’t work then go back to open gaps between the lines. That’s when you need to have the right ball, with the right speed and individual quality to make the right decisions. On the goal, you see good individual quality from Darlington Nagbe and then a good run from Julian Gressel. When you look at FC Barcelona, in the end (Lionel) Messi makes the difference. That’s why I put in a guy like Tito Villalba and told him if he gets a 1-v-1 opportunity, he needs to go 1-v-1. I changed to all offensive in the second half, and it helped us with Darlington playing a crucial role in the goal.”

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“After Gonzalo Martinez was substituted, Barco played in the No. 10 position. You can only have one No. 10 in this type of system. He plays against this system, a lot of times he comes inside and you can say we have multiple No. 10’s. Maybe, he is better suited to come from the left when he can go inside and outside. I think he is performing really well and you have to make decisions. For me tonight, I knew we would have narrow spaces against Colorado, so I didn’t put Tito (Villalba) from the start. He is a player that needs space, and normally Barco and Gonzalo Martinez are better in those tight spaces.”

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“I told him (Darlington Nagbe) and Tito you have to go wide and if can go 1-v-1, then you have to do. As a midfielder, he isn’t playing left full back, but you also have to create space for Tito. Those type of actions always make the difference in games. It’s always one man more in the back, then somebody has to step out. The individual quality has to make a difference in 1-v-1 situations. Then, we have an advantage up front. I remember from (Pep) Guardiola that he says from the back we have one man more. When somebody comes to me, I play to the other free man. In the end, it comes to somebody who can make a difference. When we are in the second or third phase, we have to have somebody with the skills to make an excellent pass. Again, it’s difficult against this kind of system because there are so many bodies in defense. Hopefully, we are going to do it better next time. I’m very proud with the energy and discipline and the effort. After the goal, we dropped a bit because we expended a lot of energy, but I’m very happy with the victory and proud of the team.”

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“I think he has to get stronger physically. Then he can deal with the other things that I mentioned previously. If he gets back to a full 100%, cause in my point of view he isn’t quite 100% yet. If he comes to that, he will get there. It takes time. I’m convinced that when he gets to 100%, we are going to see a difference and have a lot of fun with him.”

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“He started later in the preseason and then picked up an injury. So, of course, he isn’t 100% right now. This was his first time he started after a long period. You have to get used to it. Training is nice, but it’s never like a game. Everybody that’s been a player before knows that experience. He’s getting there, and only when he gets games in he will get there. Of course, he has to train hard to get to that 100%. Training and games help with that.”

Atlanta United FC midfielder Jeff Larentowicz 

“A win at home. It was extremely difficult. They did a good job of making it tough. It’s funny, it’s kind of a paradox where you have to be patient but play quickly to kind of get through and create openings. The second half it opened up, a couple guys came on and changed the game a little bit and we got the breakthrough.”

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“I think we were a little too content to go side-to-side and allow them to shift. I think they did a good job – obviously in the first half – when you’re shifting that much you’ve got more energy, in the second half it probably wanes a little bit. You bring a guy like Tito (Villalba) on who times his runs so well, is physical and fast, creates the goal. That was really the difference.”

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“Everybody brings different characteristics for sure. Tito (Villalba) is different from (Ezequiel) Barco, who is different from Pity (Martinez), who is different than Julian (Gressel). It’s something else, especially if you’re a defender who’s been playing for 75 minutes against a guy that does one thing, and then you bring another guy on that does something else, it’s both dangerous. If I’m worried about covering Barco, the ball at his feet, not closing him down for 75 minutes, and you bring Tito on right behind him – it’s going to be tough. Characteristics are different and it creates problems.”

Atlanta United FC midfielder Julian Gressel

“You could tell that the other team didn’t come here to try and win the game. They wanted to sit back and really just defend. Obviously, an early goal would have helped us, but we kept being patient and working and finally had the breakthrough. I think we had a half-chance with the header after that, but that was really it.”

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“That was Damian Lillard inspired. I think he had a quote after that as well. I forget it now, but he had a great little quote about a silent warrior that wins the fight.”

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“It’s really tough. These games are probably the toughest games to play in just because there aren’t many gaps that open up for us. In the past, we’ve found ways to not get that goal and then make silly or a couple of mistakes in a row that then lead to a goal. Today, we were tight and tightened up in the back. We never really got in to trouble in the counter at all. I don’t think Brad (Guzan) had to make a save other than that header at the end. We want to try and score and break them down and today we found a way.”

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“It was extremely important. Obviously, we’ve all been itching and waiting for that first home win. Today, it finally came and we got it. Now we go on the road and have a tough matchup next weekend and then hopefully we get a good result and get rolling a little bit. Three points at home were massive. We definitely feel good tonight and then worry about Kansas City on Monday.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

“It did not matter how, we got across the line, in terms of the result. We just needed three points, and we got it done.”

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“Probably not, but that did not matter. It just mattered that we found a way to get a result. When you have a team come in and put all eleven guys behind the ball for 90 minutes on their own half, never really try to come out and get after you, the space is tight, the space is limited, and you have got to be clever in terms of how you get behind them and through them and create chances. Fortunately for us, a bit of a toe-poke in off the post, and we will take it.”

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“That is the plan. Any time you are in a long stretch of games like that, there is a lot of points to play for, and the games come quick and fast. It is a chance to hopefully put together a positive run, and like I said before, get some positive results.”

Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe

“The ball cleared out to me, and I’ve been working on pushing up and being up the field when the ball clears out to me. I was able to win that ball and kind of penetrate and get the ball across. I think Julian (Gressel) hit it in.”

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“I get more freedom to come inside with the right foot and provide service if needed. I prefer that left side.”

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“I wouldn’t say it’s a relief but it feels good; it’s rewarding. Today wasn’t the best performance, but these games are always difficult to play in.”

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“I was just pushing up the field. We worked on training all day, if we are getting service in, if we are attacking, try to get the whole team up. We attack and defend as a team. The ball cleared out and I just got there before the opponent did, just pushed the endline, try to get there, and swung it in. Luckily, Julian (Gressel) got a touch to it.”

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“Play a little more attacking. Play centrally and provide support on the ball, but if I can get isolated or Tito (Hector Villalba) can get isolated, then for us to attack.”

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“After the New England (Revolution) game, I thought we were all positive to build on to that game, and I think we did that versus FC Dallas, even though we did not get the points that we wanted. Today, it was not the game that we wanted, but we got the points, so I think it is just a matter of time before we get it all together.”

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“Every time I get the ball, I am looking for (Pity Martínez). Obviously, we want to get our talented guys, our playmaker, our #10 on the ball. We know what he can do. We have seen him in training, and we have seen him at River Plate. I think he is just getting started here. I am confident in him, and I am going to give him the ball every single time, and it is just a matter of time before everyone can see what he can do.”

Atlanta United defender Leandro González Pirez

“Many times when teams sit so far back it makes it complicated and the spaces we leave open defensively on the counter-attack are more noticeable, but tonight we did a great job defensively. Offensively as well. We had patience. We didn’t have as many shots on goal, but we were close to goal often. When they have eight or nine guys in the box it’s difficult for anyone. In general terms, we did well, we were patient, the goal comes almost at the end when we were tired from attacking so much that at the end. We sat back a little and waited for an opportunity to counter, but in general, we controlled the game from start to finish.”

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“Kansas City plays similar to us, maybe they have a little more possession than we do, but it will be an open game like the games against them always are, with many scoring chances and maybe not a ton of goals, but it will be an entertaining game because we’re two teams who take the initiative of the game and attack. We’ll see how the game goes, but hopefully we can win.”

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“It seems to me that our last No. 10, Miguel (Almirón) was much more explosive. Pity is much more of a thinker, assist-provider, that shoots from outside the box, who doesn’t make as many runs into space or arrive on goal as much as Miguel. He has characteristics more like an assist-provider, but he’s a player who can give us a lot, and I think today in general terms he had a great game. When teams defend deeply it’s complicated and, sometimes, we depend on the creativity of players like Ezequiel, Josef, sometimes Julian also, so we need them. Today, they appeared and we were patient, which was important, but I think he’s a very high-quality player.”

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“We know that we don’t like to see ourselves there. It’s an uncomfortable situation. Honestly, I don’t even look at the table because it wasn’t the start of the season that we wanted. The truth is we didn’t get some results. In some games, we deserved more, in others not so much, but it’s an uncomfortable position. Luckily, we were able to win, and I think we passed someone, so we’re not last and hopefully we can tack on more next game and get into the playoff positions.”

Atlanta United midfielder Franco Escobar

“Happy with the win. The team needed it. We hadn’t won a home game. It was a difficult game, they sat back very deep so it was difficult to find the space, but we had patience and luckily, we scored a goal, and it’s a just win.”

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“Good, the first 90 minutes I’ve played this year. I need to get back a little bit physically, but I’m happy to be able to play 90 minutes after so much time and happy for the team to get back to winning.”

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“For being a little imprecise, in another moment, we would have created more chances or scored more goals, but the team is under direction of a new coach, another idea. I think it’s a positive game where we had the ball and didn’t find that many chances, but it’s a victory, and it’ll make training this week better.”

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“Games, to be able to win consecutive games, but I think this is the idea.”

Colorado Rapids Head Coach Anthony Hudson

 “General thoughts, well, everyone knows our problems since the start of the season. I think we’ve been a team that plays good football, we create chances, every game we’re in, we are an attacking threat. That’s sort-of come at the expense of leaking goals. Then, we come to a place where a team full of superstars and big money players and massive, massive gap in class, and we’ve set up a different way. I think we’re a little unfortunate to at least come away with at least a point in the game. I’ve just said to the players in there I think that they’re incredibly unlucky. I think the effort they put in today was big considering the position we’re in to come here and to really limit them. I think us and them really had three shots on target each, and we kept a quite a few of their big players quiet for a majority of the game. We had chances ourselves.”

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“I don’t think there was any danger. Coming into halftime, there was no danger. I didn’t feel there wasn’t any real scary moments in terms of what they created. I think we defended a lot better. I think, individually, they defended a lot better, and as a group, they defended a lot better. So coming into halftime, it was a case of us staying in the game as long as possible. There were a couple of situations where we felt we could create some chances ourselves. I think there was that spell in the second half right before the goal where we were pinned back a little bit too much, but look, defensively, I thought we were a lot better.”

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“Every game we’ve played in, we’ve created chances. We’ve scored goals. In games, we’ve scored quite a few goals. I think we’re quite high up in the league in chances created and chances on goal. As I’ve said, that’s been at the expense of us being very open and having weaknesses in other areas. I think this is another game where I hear a lot of people around the place and media and these types of things talk about where we’re at. It’s almost like people see us at the same level as Atlanta or as on the same level as Orlando or DC, but the reality is, I think, every game we’ve played in, it’s been the DPs (designated players), big money players up front that are making the difference. Every game that we’ve played in, people think we have those players and we don’t. Today was just another example of the real gulf in class. I think every single game we’re playing against teams and their DPs are making a difference. People think we are on the same level, we’re not. We’ve compromised our attack slightly today because we had to come here today and get a result. I think, actually, the approach was right. I think the approach worked, and in the end, we were unfortunate. In the end, I think the bad thing is when this is compounded with where we’ve come from, that’s tough, but the actual performance today was strong.”

Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna

“I think we executed our game plan up until the goal. I think we frustrated them. I think we had a good defensive performance. I think there was just a moment where we got caught, maybe switched off a little bit, but I think it is a performance that we can build on because we definitely did what we wanted to do to frustrate them and hit them on the break. We had a couple really good chances, so we are definitely going to try and build on that.”

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“I think we just have to be clinical. We knew we weren’t going to get as many chances maybe as we’ve gotten in previous games. We were more focused on defending and hitting them on the break. The defensive part was very good up until the goal. Like I said, when you don’t have that many chances, you have to capitalize on the other end.”

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“I thought he did really well. He looked confident, he played positive. I think he was definitely up for it, so congratulations to him and I think he has a bright future.”

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