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Red Bulls 1, Atlanta United 0: What was said

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What was said after Atlanta United's 1-0 loss to New York Red Bulls on Saturday in the MLS tournament in Orlando:

Head Coach Frank de Boer

On tonight’s offensive performance:

“The crosses have to be better, but the occupation in the box itself has to of course be better. I think the finishing as well. We had two crosses tonight to Manuel Castro and two times he mishit it. So, it’s not a shot on goal, but for me it’s a good chance. In the first half, Brooks (Lennon) gave a good cross that was a little too hard maybe and Castro couldn’t control it. If the ball is a little slower, he can have an easy tap-in or control it and have a big opportunity. It’s not only the delivery, sometimes it’s the play, sometimes it’s the delivery or the occupation in the box.”

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On decision to go with Emerson Hyndman and Mo Adams in midfield to start game:

“I think both played really well. Mo is the type of guy that does the dirty work in midfield. Emerson is a type of player that we expect to do some of the things that Darlington Nagbe did last season. He’s a player that connects the defense and midfield towards the attack. He’s always comfortable on the ball and I think he played well tonight. Even though he didn’t train two weeks with us, he can look back at a very good game. Mo did an excellent job to stop the counter attack of New York and I was satisfied with their performances.”

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On what the team did well and where he sees room for improvement:

“Well the biggest improvement is that we gave too many big chances away. If you start with the first goal, I have to see it back but it looks like we weren’t alert enough to see the guy that was coming from deep. In the first half they had three good chances, two of those times we are sloppy with marking. Almost out of nothing, they have a chance. That’s something we have to do much better. During the first half, we played quite well and created our chances. As I mentioned before with the Lennon cross to Castro that was a 100% chance in my view. George Bello had a great chance. Pity (Martinez) had a half chance, we played quite well. We had speed on the flanks, and Pity was involved in the game. I was satisfied with that, but football is a game of mistakes. We have to understand who makes less mistakes normally wins games. You have to mark attackers also, that’s something we have to improve on. In the first half, they had three good chances, but we had two 100% chances as well. I told the team at halftime I was quite pleased how we played. We have to start from the beginning though, not after we concede a goal. Second half,I think the game was pretty equal. They had some good opportunities, we had some good ones as well. Especially with Manual Castro in the beginning and late on as players get tired you saw some more chances. We were very close with Adam Jahn’s header at the end, but unfortunately for us it didn’t go in for a draw. I see a lot of positive things, but we are Atlanta United. We want to win every game and that’s the attitude we want to see of course. We are never satisfied with a point or with no points.”

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On decision to use tonight’s formation:

“I think we have the best players to play the 3-4-3 system. I’m really convinced that we can be an attacking side. As your colleague mentioned earlier we had over 20 crosses tonight. That’s what I want to see. I want the initiative to come from the center backs and the wing backs. We have a lot of offensive players. I want to see an attacking side, that’s what Atlanta expects, that’s what our fans expect. We showed some glimpses of it. I think in this system we can do that. If you see the players that we have, it’s a perfect fit for them.”

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On difficulty to advance out of group stage following tonight’s result:

“You know that a lot of third-place teams advance as well. We still will go for the first place in our group. We have to win games now. That’s what Atlanta stands for and that’s what we will do the next time. I have confidence after what I saw today that we can achieve that against Cincinnati. Still, even if you lose to Cincinnati and get a good result against Columbus Crew, you can advance to the next round. Of course, you don’t want to be in that situation. I believe we are going to have to good result against Cincinnati.”

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On what makes New York Red Bulls a difficult challenge for Atlanta United:

“They always play the same. Very direct, a lot of long balls and then win second balls. They have quality players like Kaku and Florian Valot, who make the difference on the ball. They know exactly what they are going to do. It’s always the same, so straight-forward winning those duels and second balls and play from there. That’s a difficult tactic to play against. I think we did a lot of times well, but we have to understand that we have to do better to win against this type of team. We had our chances, but it’s a tough opponent for us. They play a style that’s still suitable for us because we created room for ourselves. But when you are especially not really alert in some situations, they have a lot of men directly in front of our goalie. They showed that two or three times and suddenly were in on our goalkeeper, and we have to understand that we need to do better in those situations.”

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Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On the performance and what the team can improve and did well:

“I think there are plenty of areas to improve. The result obviously wasn’t good enough from a performance standpoint. I think are spacing could have been better and then ultimately our options to go forward. I think in the first half especially, we know Red Bulls plays a high line. The direct balls from us, and still being confident to try and play. There were times when our spacing was good and we were able to link two to three passes and get out the other side and instantly became a threat. When we’re going back to front and we’re going direct with one pass, that’s not us. That’s not who we are. And then defensively we need to be much better. Aside from the goal, they still have good chances. Set pieces. There are a lot of areas to look back at the tape and get better. For all of us.”

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On George Bello’s performance and areas to improve:

“George is a young player. We know he has talent and ability. But it’s different when you’re playing in the first team. It’s different when you’re playing against men. As much as we want him to go forward we also want him to defend and be aware of what’s around him. You learn those types of things and situations by playing games and experiencing them. For all the quality he has, now it’s a matter of trying to string along games consistently to look at his performance from an individual standpoint and how he can get better individually and ultimately get better to help the team. He has a great chance I the first half, a bit unlucky. But at the same time, I think there are times when the spacing from our center backs as well as our front players, and just him having an understanding of where he can be dangerous and hurt an opponent.”

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On the breakdown on Red Bulls’ goal:

“I going to have to look back at it. My initial reaction is Fernando (Meza) was probably too far over. We get sucked to the ball and our spacing is not good enough. You look at the Red Bulls’ game against Cincinnati, you look at their games in the past, their fullbacks, especially on the weak side, bomb forward as well as their interior midfielders and they will make that run consistently. With one ball we were in trouble. Our spacing wasn’t good enough and with one ball over the top he was in on goal.”

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Atlanta United midfielder Mo Adams

On the performance of the midfield:

“I think Red Bulls, of course, when they score that early in the game they just try to get behind the ball and keep things compact and tight. So for us it was just about finding the pockets behind their front line to pick up the ball and be able to turn. But also being compact when we don’t have possession to keep an eye on their attacking players like Kaku who are able to thread the ball through so just be cautious un transition to not get caught out.”

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On the team’s chances to get out of the group:

“In terms of our chances nothing changes. We’re Atlanta United and we’re expected to win every game we play in. Unfortunate not to get a result today I think but we have to watch tape, look for areas to improve. But it doesn’t change anything. We have to still go out and play the two games, aim to win and get out of the group stages.

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On how it felt to play a match after four months:

“I think it was great to get back out there. It’s been a while for us. We’ve trained and had setbacks and challenges over the course of this year, really, so we’re proud to get back out there and be able to compete. Of course, it’s not ideal with the result tonight but we’ll look at the tape and we’ll learn and come back stronger next game.”

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New York Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas

“I'm really proud of our boys. I think it's always difficult to match the first one of group play in any tournament style play and Atlanta is, is one of the benchmarks of the league with top players, they're well coached team and to see our players step on the field with courage and a commitment to the style of play, and a commitment to each other. And they really went after the game. And I think they earned the three points and like I said I'm really proud of them. Games usually go and little ebbs and flows and we thought we were even better in the second half that the first half is a little bit back and forth and they moved us around a little bit, and when they had the ball, and they're good at that. But I think our guys defensively were tight in the second half we create a lot of chances and for sure it's a great, great victory to start the tournament for our guys.”

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On whether the substitutions were more managed, in taking care of the minutes while they guys were getting tired or completely tactical:

“Think it was a little bit of both. The substitutions early on with the midfielders, we bring on fresh legs and Alex Muyl and so much with us, our style of play requires players to meet the demands with the intensity and the running and understanding against the ball. So the first few substitutions had that in mind with some intensity and energy because it's difficult it's hot, you can see the water breaks it's humid, and even up top with Omir Fernandez, this is a bit of a tactical move because we know Omir Fernandez can stretch the team and he can also hold onto the ball. So later in the game I think we saw, we went to five in the back a little bit of a system change. So it was a little bit of both, and always as a coach you have to look at the game and manage it the best way you can but we knew we would be aggressive with our substitutions and I thought that the guys did really well to come on.”

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On how Valot’s showing overall was in the match:

“Well, it's fitting for the two guys sitting next to Flo (Valot) and Kaku both, they really understand how to operate in that red zone, we call it the space between the other teams 6’s and backline because their awareness and their ability to know exactly where they are at all times, and then to make final plays whether it's a goal or an assist their passing ability and intelligence is of a high level. When you talk about Flo, and Kaku he's, he's able to make the game, but when you have another playmaker you play with two 10s, it takes pressure off of Kaku and we say how long does it take a couple of players to get on the same page. And these guys can get on the same page pretty quickly. So, you know, I've seen Flo's journey, come with the injuries and he works really hard to come back. And that just to see him play well and produce it's really special moments for Flo.He understands how we play with the ball he's really clean brings ideas to our team, and he understands the system how to play, which is not an easy system when there’s onlytwo 10s in there to understand the spaces and how to play against the ball I think we see that he does a nice job.”

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On being asked to be interview by FOX mid-game

“Look, when I was asked about that yesterday I said yes, because I think for the viewership if we can give them an inside, little peek of what we're thinking and makes it even more interesting for our game, and in our league in our country. I said yes. In that moment, it's you know everything's tight, it's 1-0, we're watching the game it's not so easy. But to be fair I just wanted to try to give the truth to anyone watching what we're feeling and what we're thinking so I understand it, and anything we can do to help grow our sport in our country to make it more exciting and interesting to gain even more soccer fans.”

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New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot

On scoring his first goal in some time

“Yeah, I think it's difficult for everybody, but I think it was important to score early and reward the team for the first 5-10 minutes that we had we pushed really hard. Obviously it's really rewarding for myself after what I've been through for the last two years but it's full credit for the team and I'm really happy we get the win today.”