Atlanta United 2, Toronto 2: What was said

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, second from right, climbs above Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba to send a header toward the goal during the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, second from right, climbs above Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba to send a header toward the goal during the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

What was said following Atlanta United's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday (quotes were provided by teams):

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino

What does this say about your group, 2 tough cities to go into and you get a single point out of each game?

“Two good ties on the road against two of the best teams in the league and in the case of tonight we were down a man so in that sense it was a good point.”

How did you see the situation with the red card?

“I didn’t see it as it happened or catch the replay so I can’t really comment on it but if the referee made that decision then he must have been sure.”

Villalba had a breakout performance today, what did you think of his game?

“We had talked to the players about trying to go at Toronto’s backline with three defenders and Tito was able to get into that space. He has that ability to get in between the defenders and he had two good goals and he had another good chance to score as well.”

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Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

Let’s talk about the adjustments you had to make being down a man?

“We just had to dig in there at the end there was about 15 minutes left and at that point coming out with a 2-2 draw was the goal. We wanted to stay solid defensively but otherwise I thought we could do that. We kept them in front of us and away from the goal pretty much.”

What was it like playing against Jozy Altidore out there, it seemed like there was a lot of physical stuff going on both sides.

“It was a physical game all around especially in the first half it was open and everyone was going hard. Jozy’s one of the strongest guys in this league so he’s tough to play against. When he’s up against me or Chris it’s difficult for us. We made the adjustment at halftime to drop Chris (McCann) between us and I think it was much better in the second half.”

Getting two draws on the road against two great teams these past two weeks, what do you make of that?

“Those are two good results for us. We talked before the game that we wanted to continue to grow as a team and I though we did that tonight. It was a difficult game, we started off great on the ball and then they outplayed us and deservingly went up 2-1. We regrouped and made some adjustments at halftime and played a very solid 2nd half getting the goal. It was our first time going into the locker room being down. It was a great comeback for us and we almost won it there with Miguel’s shot.”

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Atlanta United goalkeeper Alec Kann

You had an incredible night against Toronto, tell us about the advice Aaron Hyde gave you prior to this match?

“He just prepared me for Giovinco, Altidore and all the weapons they have. My job was to keep us in the game. We were up against the ropes in the 1st half and thankfully I was able to keep us in the game. That’s a huge point that shows the character of the group and should be huge for us as the season goes on.”

This was such a fast paced game from both ends, how did you fare against that offense because they were really putting the pressure on you in both halves.

“In the first half we made it a little harder on ourselves but as the game went on we worked through it. It shows the character of the group, we were strong willed and getting two draws on the road in two tough environments against two good teams are two great results for us.”

What are you guys going to be doing to prepare for Montreal next weekend?

“They’re another dynamic team with fast players, good attacking players. It’s going to be more of the same, we just have to get back to work on Tuesday.”

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Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba

On his thoughts on the game

“A tough game, difficult field, and we knew how to play even with a good team.”

On the two goals

“The first goal I think was all Miguel (Almiron), he gave me a great pass. And the second I took advantage of my speed and was able to score that way.”

On himself and the team being new to the league

“Toronto is a complex team, and very difficult, the runners-up from last year, and we’ve only been together about 80 days getting to know each other, and in that way we’re improvising.”

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Toronto coach Greg Vanney

So why did you not win this game?

“We didn’t protect our depth well enough and we did not score more goals. I think the attacking play was pretty well played especially the first half as the intensity was there. We won a lot of good balls and closed down a lot of areas. We had a couple slightly missed passes and missed some shot. We missed an opportunity to really open up the scoring in the first half. For me, for much of the game, was our best performance of the year I think by quite a margin.”

What did you learn about Chris Mavinga tonight?

“I thought he played way too slow to read the action and see what was going on. No matter how fast you are as a human being, if you are not fast to pick up on plays you are not going to be able to make up the ground. For me, as of tonight, he wasn’t ready for the speed and action of the transition. He did not pick up the reads but we need to keep pushing and developing him.”

Did you have a good first look at the incident between Eriq and Asad?

“As he was going by, his elbow was high, and he elbowed him in the head; he should have been sent off. I am not in the position to say if there was intent or not but the elbow was high and caused for a dangerous play.”

Did you think Alex should have had either or both of the goals he let in?

“The first one, I think if Alex has a good save then he would have made the save. If he picks up on the trajectory of the ball then he would have been able to make the save. The second goal, I did not get a good look at but I am still trying to understand how we gave up a breakaway from 80 feet away. If he makes a save on that play then he is the hero of the game.”

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Toronto defender Drew Moor

How do you think you guys did in transition?

“Not good enough on two plays, that’s all I really felt like they had. When we were in our set defence we were extremely organized and did extremely well. Disappointed not to get all three.”

Thoughts on the game…

“I thought it was an exciting game, it wasn’t a typical early April game. I enjoyed being a part of it. Both teams went for it and wanted to take all three points which I thought was good. Plenty of words were said but it’s a battle and we all want to win.”

They don’t play like an expansion team. Were you ready for that type of play from them?

“Ya, they’re a good team. They’ve shown over their first five games that they’re going to come at teams and they’re going to play the way they want to play and they are going to try and get teams to adapt to them. I thought we did a good job of it, we created the better chances but just maybe lacked a little bit of quality at times. We’re disappointed but I thought both teams competed well and it was an intense match.”

How would you assess the mood of the team?

“I still feel like we’ve left some points out there but we are headed in the right direction. We’re undefeated and it is a long season. These are the moments, early in the season, to fix some of the things that we need to be better at. I think overall we are still very confident and we feel good about where we are.”

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Toronto defender Eriq Zavaleta

It seemed like they only had a couple of chances but were able to burn you both times…

“I think we knew that coming in that they’re quick guys. They’ve got three dynamic players up there that can do that to you and unfortunately we got caught on the wrong side of them and they finished them. It’s something that we’ll address.”

On the play with Yamil Asad…

“Obviously I didn’t see him coming, I was dribbling with the ball and I felt something really hard hit the back of my head. For me, I watched the replay, he comes high with the elbow and catches me on the back of the head. In my opinion, it’s not even close, it’s a red card.”

How do you assess where your team is at?

“I think we took a step forward. I think our energy was good, obviously getting Seba (Sebastian Giovinco) on the scoresheet was important for us, and he had a good game. We were dynamic going forward, we’ve got to address a couple of things on the defensive side of the ball but a complete performance is coming and when that happens I think we’re going to win a lot of games.”

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