Atlanta United players call accusations ‘silly’

Atlanta United head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino signals to his players in the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Columbus Crew Saturday, June 17, 2017, in Atlanta (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Caption
Atlanta United head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino signals to his players in the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Columbus Crew Saturday, June 17, 2017, in Atlanta (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

"Silly" and "frustrated" were among the words Atlanta United's players used regarding accusations made by New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch that they were told to intentionally kick his players during last week's 0-0 draw.

“That’s just a silly comment,” Atlanta United fullback Anton Walkes said. “No one would ever be told to do that. You can hurt someone seriously. As competitive as we are, no one has the intent to do anyone damage.”

In addition to saying that Atlanta United’s players were kicking his players, Marsch said that they were told to do so by manager Gerardo Martino, who denied that accusation, as did technical director Carlos Bocanegra.

“There’s nothing that Tata has ever said in that regard,” Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel said. “No coach has ever told me to kick another player on another team. Maybe he was getting frustrated because we put more physicality on. Nothing comes from the coaches.”

Atlanta United’s training session Thursday was the first opportunity to interview the players following Sunday’s draw and Marsch’s subsequent accusations. The Five Stripes will host Toronto on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

MLS hasn’t revealed if anyone involved in Sunday’s game has been reprimanded for their comments or actions.

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