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Atlanta United 3, New York Red Bulls 3: What was said

Atlanta United forward Josef MartAnez (7) moves the ball during the first half in a MLS game against the New York City Red Bulls on Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/SPECIAL
Atlanta United forward Josef MartAnez (7) moves the ball during the first half in a MLS game against the New York City Red Bulls on Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/SPECIAL

Credit: Branden Camp

Credit: Branden Camp

What was said after Atlanta United's 3-3 draw with New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer

On the red card issued following the match
"Jeff Larentowicz for stepping on somebody's toes, or feet, or something like that. That was the explanation of the referee. He got pushed, I know, and he reacted on that. Not so smart."

On the New York Red Bulls' third goal
"I think when you are so close to victory, whatever pass is coming into your area, you have to stop it. I think it went through someone's legs, or something like that. That is what I saw from my view. Maybe it was a good pass, but I also think there was a little bit of luck involved. We were not tight enough at that moment, and we have to understand that there are 30 or 40 seconds to go, so we have to try and get your body in front of the ball. It was not enough because you work so hard to come back, and then you go away with a very bad taste in your mouth. You leave the field, and you could get a really good boost from the comeback, of course, and now you are very disappointed because you only have one point."

On today's starting formation
"You saw these kind of games, with the (New York) Red Bulls, they are putting a lot of pressure on us with long balls and long balls, and winning duels, so if you can win those balls, you have to have runners, and Pity (Gonzalo Martinez) is the guy who has to deliver those balls to Julian (Gressel), Josef (Martinez), or Justin (Meram), so that was the idea behind it. (New York Red Bulls) want to really press one against one, so if (Pity Martinez) can come into midfield and some center defender has to mark him, either can create spaces at that moment for us to get the relief out of the pressure from them. So, that was the idea behind it. Also, if you remember the first game there in New York, in the beginning we had a lot of times that (Pity Martinez) was free, and maybe he did not make the best choices, but that is the player that you want to have on the ball in that area."

On the subbing of Pity Martinez
"We have to win duels, and in my point of view, he did not do enough to avoid giving someone an easy long ball. You saw, Brandon (Vazquez) came in and it was a different story. I want not 10, or 9, or 8 men who work very hard, everybody has to work hard, especially in these kinds of games. These are very difficult games. I had the feeling that we have to win those duels, and that is also why I put Jeff Larentowicz in. After we put Jeff in, we get chance after chance. And you can think, 'Hey, that's defensively,' but first you have to win those duels, and we did after that. You saw every time we won those duels it was in open space with Justin (Meram), or Josef (Martinez), so I think it was good for us that we did it. I had the feeling that at that moment we were losing grip on the game, and that is why I put those two in, and we turned it around."

On the response from the team following last Wednesday's match
"It was ok, but still, we have to do better than that. I think it was a little bit of a tight game that could have gone either way, but especially in the second half, I had the feeling that we were losing much more duels, but the reaction was much better. From the first second, we were there. That is very positive, but I also expect that reaction after a defeat like that."

On his takeaways from the match
"If you are down 2 to 1, and not so many minutes until the end, and you respond like that, that is fantastic and what you want to see. Of course, I am happy, but still, when you are like one minute away from three points, and now we are sitting here with only one point, that is disappointing. You have to look to the negative things, but also the positive things, and there were a lot of positive things also. We have to go further from that, and it is still a long season, but we want to improve and be better, so we have to understand what we did wrong and improve on what we did good. Maybe then, we can even do better."

On the team's mentality
"It is very hard when you concede a goal, like at Real Salt Lake, in the last second. I said in the dressing room we have to understand that how you avoid it does not matter, but you have to avoid those situations and letting them get a chance. If you have to go through that pain, because it was really a battle, but we have to improve on that. And maybe it is the mentality of understanding what it means to get those points, or even a point, where you think that is enough, but three points was the best result for us. Maybe mentally we have to improve on that because lately, if we concede a goal very early, we give in to emotion, but we still have to play our own game, and maybe that is sometimes the problem with our team, but I am convinced we will do better next time."

On the play of the backline
"I always say defending starts up front, and you cannot blame the defenders. It is the whole team. If you see the second goal, it starts when somebody turns his back to the situation, then the Red Bulls player passes through the midfield and one of our defenders has to step out. So, it is a team effort and I think we have to understand that. And of course, you always want to play with the same back line because the chemistry and connection is normally better, but I think we have quality enough not to concede so many goals. I never blame the back four or the goalkeeper, it is a team effort, and we have to try to avoid letting them get more pressure than there should be."

On Florentin Pogba's injury
"He picked up a hamstring injury. He played a very good game here against Montreal Impact, and then I had him on the bench because I think three games in eight days is too much when you did not play that much, but then he had to enter after 12 minutes and he played almost the whole game, and now this. But because of the red card I had to put him in as a left center back, and then you see what was happening. We were cautious and said, 'Ok, take it easy with him', but then suddenly he had to play three games in eight days. Unfortunately for him, because I think he was doing really well. He is a really positive guy in the locker room, and very helpful with the youngsters. Now, he can help the youngsters, but it is a pity for him because he did not deserve it, because he did a really good job."

On the play of Josef Martinez
"You know that Josef (Martinez) is a winner, has an impact on the team, and gets everybody working on their toes in a positive way. You have to be very alert because he is a winner. I feel really sorry for him. You come back and you are up 3 to 2, and then you get the feeling that he is the man, and he still is the man, but with only one point. You know he always has a very good impact for the team. He proved it the last two seasons, and already this year, so it is not nice for him because he wants to be the star, and he was the star, but now it is literally taken off of him because now everybody is talking about that point instead of Josef.

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez

On how he feels being back
"Happy because I'm seeing my family. That's what makes me happy now."

On a tough game, things clicking early but then falling apart late
"It's difficult because we're playing against a team that has always been like a stone in our shoe. After recovering from being down 2-1 we can't give up a goal like that. We're professional players not little kids. We have to know what the good and bad things are and not let them happen again because it was a game that we almost had in our pocket in the last minutes. They are players that have played a lot of games in MLS, more than 100 games, and we can't give away this game that was practically won."

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On today's result
"It's never a nice feeling. You don't want to have that type of performance in terms of a game but also game after game. You want to be a team that's consistent, steady, and constantly on the rise and at the moment that's certainly not the case."

On the final minutes of the game
"We were naïve and got stretched. In those moments, you need to have an understanding of where those guys are. You can't allow someone eight yards from the goal."

On trying to rebound from the Chicago match 
"We talked about having a good start and making sure there would be a battle. We knew it would be intense and we were up for that part of the challenge. I don't know what it is. If you're able to put your finger on it, it probably doesn't happen as often as it currently is. As a team, we certainly need to be better defensively. To a certain extent it has the same feeling as the beginning of the season. We were conceding chance after chance. You're not going to win many games playing like that. We need to make sure we get back to playing strong defensively. That allows goals like Josef Martinez's to win us the game."

Atlanta United midfielder Justin Meram

On overall results versus New York Red Bulls
"We had the lead twice and ended up with a draw. We fought until the end, great response by Josef (Martinez) and he was just so dangerous tonight—which was great, we knew that—but unfortunately we didn't get the win."

On contributing positively to the team
"Been here a couple months now, so just understanding the guys and their tendencies. For me, how I can make an impact when my name's called and I'm just happy I can contribute. There were a couple chances when I could've taken a little bit of weight off the final pass to Josef (Martinez) and maybe it's a different outcome, so I just have to keep working, keep improving and that's my mindset."

On his mindset and rhythm within the club
"Why not? Let's keep it going. For me, I'm not going to think about what I did tonight or what I did last week, those two games were great, now how can I do it again on the road."

On draw with New York Red Bulls
"When we're at home, 72,000, you have to be kidding me, playing in front of that crowd is spectacular and they deserve more and unfortunately we didn't give it to them."

On U.S. Open Cup match versus Saint Louis FC on Wednesday
"We have three games to win a trophy so that's our mentality. Give it everything we got Wednesday and put us in the semifinals. You always want to win, and for me, I've never been this far in an Open Cup so I'm excited to see where we can go with it."

New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas

On the penalty awarded to Atlanta
"Well, it is a tie that feels good in the end, but man we thought we had the game. We thought we had a grasp on it and we thought on the day that we were the better team. When you talk about the penalty, it depends which way you want to look at it. We see Danny Royer get the position earlier in the game and gets bumped from behind and he doesn't roll around and go down easy like (Josef) Martínez does. He goes down really easy. Danny is one of the most honest superstars in the league. He doesn't get that treatment though. If it is the same, if we want to be consistent, then the penalty would be given and then you'd have to prove that it is clear and obvious that it is not. Once Kevin (Stott) makes the decision to give Martínez the penalty, you have to deliberate and you get caught up in semantics and language of, is it clear and obvious that it is not a penalty? I think we all know that when you are watching the game that if that is a penalty, almost every corner kick in every game at this level in the entire world there's penalties. Although that is usually the trigger, you see something from behind, to go down that easy in this game, to give the penalty I didn't think was the right call. We have said this a long time about Bradley Wright-Phillips that he doesn't get that benefit of the doubt, whatever you want to call it, and Danny Royer didn't tonight and I think Martínez did. The best thing is that our guys hung in there and battled back and stood together. They started the game the right way and they finished the game the right way."

On the team's strategy and how it played out
"We had to piece together a few different things and figure out who would start the game. The two red cards in Houston didn't help with the decision in some ways. That is what we are here to do as the coaches. Most of it was pretty straight-forward. Sean Nealis has done well with USL and he has been in some tough games this year, we have thrown him out there. The best thing about it is that he is learning along the way. We know that, above all, he has courage and he steps in. We thought that coming in against Atlanta that it would take a lot of guys having good days, and we thought we had that. A lot of good performances up the field. Marc Rzatkowski, one guy that I could point out, really plays the 10 tonight and was excellent. We thought Cristian Cásseres and Sean Davis might be two of their best games in a Red Bull jersey. You can go around the horn here and acknowledge a lot of good performances, but probably easier to say a great team performance and even better mentality. First time as a coach or player that you fly to a game on gameday. Big delays yesterday. The guys never complained, not one complaint. Not about food, the flight, having to go home last night, come back, wake up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and to put out that performance. It is not even a good performance because of that, it is actually was a great performance in general. The guys have to have big belief after that."

On the growing rivalry with Atlanta United
"It's not worth more than three points, but it certainly feels that way. It is a team that we have had to go through and they have had to go through us. Last year we take the Supporters' Shield from them, they win MLS Cup and beat us in the playoffs. There is a growing history there. Anytime you come to this building, you have to recognize their organization and their supporters. What an environment and atmosphere. Even if nerves are there, those are the games we all want to be in. The players, you remind them that that is what they signed up for. Look at the way that last game ended against them, with Kemar (Lawrence) and (Tito) Villalba having some words. It means something to these guys. We feel that way about them, you can ask them how they feel, but I think you can see that we got up for this one for sure."

On what has fueled the rivalry
"The nature of how games have gone. We have won in this building. Where we have been in the standings over the last few years, it always seems to be a big game. Down the stretch last year we win that game at Red Bull Arena, two conflicting styles. With our pressing, that always makes for an interesting clash. There's not really the "Me and Tata incident," it was actually the "Tata incident." He didn't shake my hand. It takes maybe one to tango there, I don't know. That's that. And now, the last game – and they are the champions, so how do you think Kemar Lawrence feels a few months ago when he had to miss the playoffs against them, had to sit and suffer watching it? That game meant a lot to Kemar Lawrence and we got to see it. I think it is a healthy rivalry there and it probably took another notch up today. I think this is good for all of us. It is good for the players, the coaches. I think if people at home are watching, they had to enjoy that. I think it is good for the league."

New York Red Bulls forward Brian White

On how it felt to play in a game like that
"We knew it was going to be an intense game. There is going to be ups and downs for us and for them. It's always going to be a battle. We try to keep a level head and know that we are going to get our chances and hopefully we can put them away."

On how important today's game was, coming off Wednesday's loss
"Obviously Wednesday was disappointing. We put that behind and came here to Atlanta, knowing what they are, they are the MLS champs. It's been a few tough games against them. Things get heated and we knew that's what it was going to be. We came in with a lot of energy, we had our gameplan and stuck to it."

On how he would describe the rivalry between New York and Atlanta
"I think it's obvious there aren't a lot of friendly games between us. It's obvious that we don't necessarily like each other too much. Part of it is our conflicting styles of play. We want to get after them, and they want to try and beat us by playing through us. Two bulls running at each other and it's always going to be a battle."

On his goal
"I don't remember the whole build up, but I remember Alex (Muyl) getting the ball out wide. So I wanted to put myself in a dangerous position at the back post. He played a really easy ball for me to put away."

On the travel getting to Atlanta
"Yeah, obviously it wasn't ideal travel conditions. But at the same time, we don't want to make any excuses. We got here, we had to get ready for a big game. Tried not to think about it too much, and put our best foot forward and go out there with as much energy as we could."

On the general feeling in the locker room after today's match
"I think it's mixed emotions. A little disappointed to give up a lead late, but also very proud of the guys. With everything we had to deal with getting here, and ultimately getting a point and scoring late on."

On how today's result helps going into next match vs. NYCFC
"We have more big games up ahead. A derby against NYCFC, then Toronto and Orlando. We have a big stretch ahead. Just trying to keep building the confidence. We come here and get a point, feel a little disappointed we should have gotten three. But at the end of the day we build off of it and proud of the guys."

New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips

On how it felt to score the equalizer late in match
"It was a good feeling. I haven't scored for a while, or even played too much for a while, so it was nice, but honestly I kind of felt bad. It was a frustrating kind of feeling. I don't think we should have been down. Especially in the first half, the boys played well. Atlanta didn't have much. It's good to go home with the point, but at the time it felt like it was a bit frustrating."

On the travel issues the team had to deal with getting to Atlanta
"Honestly, it wasn't too big of a deal. It was annoying being at the airport for as long as we were. You just want a decision to be made. But we got to go home, I got enough sleep and these things happen. I think they got it sorted as best they could. We got here today with enough time. Everything was alright, it wasn't as big a deal as I think it's being made out to be."

On having a bittersweet feeling of getting a draw tonight
"I didn't think it was a penalty. That's football though, so it is what it is. The reaction from the team was good. Because in a place like this, when you go down it's the end for a lot of teams and they lose the game. We managed to fight back and get a point."

On today's game having a similar feel to last year's match between these two
"I agree a little bit, but I think last year we were under a bit more pressure. Today, most of the time the game was on our terms. The gameplan was working. They had one shot in the first half. This is Atlanta we are talking about here. One shot in the first half and they didn't look too dangerous. Last year, we got a bit lucky and got our goals at good times. Tonight, if we had gotten that third goal earlier, we could have seen out the match."

On the rivalry with Atlanta
"I think if I'm totally being honest, it's two teams that respect each other. We are both good teams, obviously. Both teams know you can't really slip up and you have to be at your best, otherwise you will get battered. That just spills onto the pitch, and that makes for a good game."


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