August 11, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez gets a double high five from Pity Martinez after his first of two goals against New York City FC in their soccer match on Sunday, August 11, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 1: What was said

What was said following Atlanta United’s 2-1 win against NYCFC Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (transcript provided by Atlanta United):

Atlanta United Head Coach Frank de Boer 

 On Atlanta United’s play in the match: 

 “I think we took good control. We won every duel. Miles (Robinson) won every duel from (Maximiliano) Moralez. Each opponent was close to him. Franco (Escobar) played a fantastic game, also. I cannot say that anybody played not-so good. Everybody played to a very high standard. Again, they play a (similar) system to us, but I think we did it better today.”  

» Player ratings: Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 1

On Hector Villalba not playing in today’s match and if ‘it indicates that he will play in the Campeones Cup’ on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium: 

 “Of course. We want to win also. We’ll have to see how people come out of this game, so we’re going . and then, we’re going to make decisions. Today, normally, when it was 2-0 in the last ten minutes, I would put him in. Then, they make it 2-1. Then, Josef (Martinez) especially, who has some set pieces for us. He’s obviously very important. So, I could not change Josef at that moment even though I wanted to spare him a little bit. Suddenly, he gets the injury back or something. It was too risky to change him, but, hopefully, he gets some minutes Wednesday.” 

On Josef Martinez and his MLS record 10th consecutive game scoring a goal: 

 “He brings some kind of energy. I think he demands from other players that they have to give the best out of themselves. He pushes them to the limit. I think that is amazing to see. He pushes himself to the limit to scoring goals and always eager to be there in front of the goal. He (also) expects that from his teammates. Sometimes, he’s angry about it when things aren’t going his way, but he keeps everybody awake. I think that’s also something. He’s doing great. Again, today, was a team effort. Did you see how many balls (Julian Gressel) played across? It was fantastic to see. We saw every time (we had the ball) that we could be a threat to our opponent. For me, it was a really good team performance.” 

Striker Josef Martinez goes up for a header over New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot that gave Atlanta United a 1-0 lead Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

On the importance of midfielder Eric Remedi: 

 “Eric (Remedi) is a typical midfielder who can turn quickly when he has the ball, and make good decisions when he has the ball, but also wants to press forward. He is like a small pitbull on the field. Every time you think you have time on the ball, he is already on your feet. Him — together with (Darlington) Nagbe — who also played fantastic today, their ability to turn away and get out of pressure from the opponent is so fantastic. It gives you so much breathing room to start a decent attack, and Eric has really played great the past couple games.” 

On the defensive ability of Eric Remedi: 

 “He is like a defensive midfielder, but he is very mobile and aggressive, and we need him in that position, especially with how we play right now. That kind of energy is what you expect from a type like him, and he is doing well. Also, you see lately, I think, that he is even much more comfortable when he has the ball and is making good decisions. He is feeling happy. He is a fantastic person, always in for a laugh, but knows when to be serious, and it is good to have him.” 

On the first-choice starting 11: 

 “I will say that we do not play with 11. We play with like 18, 19, or 20 on our roster. Everybody is important, and some of these can change. Of course, this is a good lineup, but you can see when (Emerson) Hyndman came in, who also played really well, and Jeff (Larentowicz) showed that sometimes against a certain opponent this player is a little more suitable to start. I always talk about team performance, so I do not want to talk about an ideal 11. Do I like the majority of the team? Yes, that is ok, but there is always room for some changes.” 

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan 

On Josef Martinez and his MLS record tenth consecutive game scoring a goal

“What record doesn’t he have now? Jeez.” 

On Josef Martinez and his consistency: 

“He’s huge. We’re probably a bit spoiled. The ball goes in the box, and you just expect him to pop up and score from whatever angle – however difficult the pass is (or) the ball is. His first goal was world class. His ability — that separation in the box — and then, to get power behind the header to beat Sean (Johnson). That is a fantastic finish, and we all know what he does from the penalty spot. Fair play to Joe (Scally). I always say he’s huge for our team, and he showed it once again tonight.” 

On New York City FC’s Valentin Castellanos attempted shot on goal in the first half: 

“Obviously, a bit of a breakdown in terms of allowing them the space and freedom to get behind us. They run in on goal and at that moment, you try to stand up and make yourself big, and fortunately, came up with the save.” 

On what he saw from today’s back three (Franco Escobar, Miles Robinson and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez): 

“They were excellent. They were all night. Before it even got to them, I thought we did a very good job – especially in the first half – of pinning them in and not even allowing them out of their half. It was very few times. I think when you have got a guy going one-v-one against Miles, Leandro, Franco, I’m going to take our guys more times than not. They were excellent in that aspect – keeping them pinned in and allowing us to continue to attack. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m sure the numbers will agree that we created tons of chances tonight. On another night, it certainly could have been more than two.” 

On how Atlanta United is improving and the confidence of the team: 

“Definitely. We talked about it before the game. We talked about knowing what being a good team is about, and what it means to be a good team. Being a good team is being consistent, home and away (and) being mentally focused. We know physically we’re at a good point. If you’re not fit now, then you’re not going to be fit for the season. We talked about being consistent. For most of the game tonight, we were. We were good. The last 20 minutes or so, probably 25 minutes, we found it difficult to keep the ball and that’s when we were on the back foot, and we were trying to hold on. “ 

On the team being able to handle pressure: 

“It’s about being brave; it’s about being confident. In the first half, Miles (Miles Robinson) tries to give them an advantage and shoots one back at me, but fortunately it goes off for a corner. But I said to him, I said, keep doing it, it’s part of us playing it. Mistakes will happen, not the end of the world. We believe in our ourselves, we believe in each other. Those things will happen but it’s how you respond and you have to be brave, you’ve got to have big shoulders and accept responsibility and say, right, we’re going to get after it today. If a mistake happens, a mistake happens. You put your arm around the guy next to you and you say, right, let’s go again. He was he was great for us. In terms of us being able to play out of pressure, when teams press us, we’re confident that we’ll be able to get out of pressure, but not only get out of pressure, eighty yards the other way and create a chance.” 

Atlanta United's Miles Robinson defends against New York City FC forward Valentin Castellanos Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

On Josef Martinez’s status prior to the match: 

“More or less, I think there was obviously some conversations between him and the medical staff and the coaching staff to see exactly how he was feeling and how fit he was. The thing about (Josef Martinez) is he’s a fighter. He’s a competitor. When you cross the white line, you want him on your team. He’s a warrior out there. After you train the other day, you kind-of figured it was going to take something pretty, pretty big to keep him out of playing today. There was there was no real surprise when we saw him in the team sheet.” 

On Pity Martinez’s progress: 

“If you look, he’s getting in a good spot and when he gets in a good spots, the game is able to kind of go through him, it’s able to go through (Ezequiel) Barco. Those guys have a good understanding of their spacing, and when you give them time and space, they can pick a pass, they can get their shots off. It allows other guys to venture forward and be a Julian (Gressel) on one side or Justin (Meram) or the other wing backs, so it allows them to get forward. I wouldn’t say it’s a comfort level or anything like that. He’s been here quite some time. I think he’s comfortable. I think it’s just a matter of him finding better areas on the field that allow him to be successful.” 

Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez 

On Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer saying this was his best match and what he attributes his good form: 

“I don’t know if it was my best game because I didn’t score, but I think I’m getting better as time goes on, which is the most important. Adapting to the league more and more and continuing to learn, keep improving and trying to achieve what the team wants, which is to be as high (in standings) as possible.” 

On if the formation helps him find more spaces: 

“Yes, the coach chooses the team and we adapt to what he says but I think this formation feels good for the team. The team likes to attack, be protagonists of the match, and you guys have seen that we’ve been doing a good job.” 

On Barco’s return: 

“I don’t think it’s changed much. He helps not only me but the whole team. This is a team, and he adds to the group. He’s playing well, and we have to congratulate him.” 

On his impressions of Josef Martinez ‘who continues to break records’: 

“He has surprised me, and we have to keep helping him, so that he keeps growing and breaking records. He’s our forward, and we want him to score goals. I assist him when I can. Today, he scored twice, but could have converted two more which would have put him at the top of the Golden Boot race, but the important thing is the options are there, and he’s converting.” 

On the game: 

“We played a good game. Very intense. We took the win which was important for the team today.” 

On the upcoming Campeones Cup: 

“It’s a great team. They’ve shown that they are a big team on the continent, and we are very strong at home, so we have to go out and play and be mentally strong to win the game and win a title.” 

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar 

On the team’s aggressiveness: 

“We treat it like a final. That’s how important of a game it was for us, and that’s how we planned for it to go. We knew it was a very important game. I thought we played well. They scored kind-of an unfair goal. I thought we created a lot of different chances. We were unable to convert, so it got a little complicated at the end, but now, it’s just about preparing for the important games that we have coming up.” 

On the team’s mentality and confidence: 

“I think over the course of the season we have been adapting to everything. We had a little bit of a difficult start, but now, you see the team is playing better, in better form, and more confident. We are playing in the Campeones Cup, the U.S. Open Cup, fighting at the top of the table, and this team has aspirations to try and repeat what we did last season. For that, we need this mentality in order to keep us confident.” 

On constantly running the length of the field: 

“No, it is not something I think about in the moment. I do not feel the fatigue in the moment, then I come back into the locker room, and I am dead, but it is just my position. I did it a lot last year under ‘Tata’ (Gerardo Martino) as well. It is just part of my game.” 

Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson 

On the game: 

“Yeah, I think overall our chemistry is clicking right now. We have some pretty confident guys, and I think we played well tonight.” 

On Franco Escobar: 

“He is a great defender, fast guy, confident on the ball, but also willing to track back and defend. He is great for that position, and it’s nice having him to my right for sure.” 

On his disallowed goal: 

“It’s not my decision. I don’t know. I wish I had it. I guess if I was on the other end I might want it, but whatever.” 

On the upcoming Campeones Cup: 

“It’s just about, you know recovering, getting the body right, and then getting the mind right and focusing on a good Club America side.” 

On Josef Martinez playing tonight: 

“That’s Josef. You know he’s a hard worker. He’s strong. He is always trying to get out there and score goals. He did tonight for sure getting that record, so that was good. We’ve been doing things under the radar for a little bit. He’s a strong guy, and he wanted to be out there. I’m not surprised (that Josef played).” 

On having experience vs. a Mexican team: 

“I think it does (provide good experience). We’re very aware of what we’re about to face, and it’s obviously a good side, but I think this is a time that you wouldn’t want to face us at home.” 

New York City FC head coach Dome Torrent 

On the fast pace of game: 

“It was very fast because we made mistakes in the first half. I said to my players in the second half, ‘If you play every single ball long ball - forget about it. It’s impossible to play.’ In the build up, we play 100 percent. I’ve said many times, ‘Look what happened, play long ball, recover the ball, we defend deep. They have specials in between the lines.’ Before the game I said to you, ‘I don’t like when we have to play these kind of games, box-to-box,’ and we played in the first half box-to-box. The reason why, because the build up all the time was long ball, long ball, long ball. I said, ‘No, long ball is - we practice long balls to surprise them.’ In the second half, we played short and we played much better.” 

On Julian Gressel’s play from the right side: 

“They start to play great in the first minutes. They could’ve scored three goals in that way. I said to (Ronald) Matarrita, ‘You have to be truly close to him, because we practice that.” One player goes above the crosses, and four players focus in the crosses. Because, they are playing that way, and we knew that. I accept sometimes, you play here, it’s not easy.” 

On his team’s strategy tonight: 

 “I say many times, maybe the people don’t believe me, ‘If you play long balls, if you play faster, how fast the ball goes the faster the ball comes back.” That’s the reason why I wanted to take control, and you have to take risks - absolutely, and you can make mistakes. I make mistakes every single day, and they can make mistakes. But they have to take the ball and pass the ball and play short, because we played the last two months that way. I don’t know the reason why in the first half, we played every single ball long, long, long. That is the reason why when you lose the ball, they recover the ball and the space is so, so big.” 

New York City FC midfielder Alex Ring 

On New York City’s ball movement: 

“We started (moving the ball) after they were 2-0 up, before that we just played long balls and came back fast.” 

On teams handling New York City’s style of play: 

“Teams catch up on it and start playing man-to-man, and we just have to find solutions because at the moment, we are having problems with that. Now, we have a week until Cincinnati, and we will probably work on it in training.” 

On what New York City can learn from this match: 

“If we want to be a top team, we have to play better. It is that simple. I think, in the first 50/60 minutes we lacked basic things, most of all courage. You can’t win games if you don’t play with your heart (and) with courage. There is a lot to think about after this game.”

X

Southern Fried Soccer Podcasts

Follow me on twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

Atlanta United coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Have a question? Email me at droberson@ajc.com

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X