If Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls do meet in the MLS playoffs there will be some extra juice to the game after the two coaches engaged in verbal sparring after Sunday's 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena.
New York coach Jesse Marsch accused some of Atlanta United’s players of kicking his players and those on the bench of encouraging them to do so.
“It was a little bit shaky in the start but once we cranked things up, we took over the game,” he said. “And the shame is that, you know they just decided they wanted to kick us almost every time, referee doesn’t want to hand out yellows, so they are allowed to kick him more.”
Later in Marsch’s answer, he said “Their bench is yelling to kick our guys from the bench, okay. So Martino is yelling in Spanish to kick our players.”
Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said “absolutely not” when asked if he or his assistantSs were yelling instructions that involved kicking the Red Bulls players.
Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra backed up Martino: “It was a competitive game and the players showed intensity on both sides. No instruction came from Coach Martino or his staff to intentionally cause injury.”
Back to Marsch, who continued answering this first question with this: “So you know, I understand that it’s a good team and they are the darlings of the league right now, but I don’t think that you should be able to come into a place and behave in that manner and not to have some kind of recourse.”
Two Atlanta United players did receive yellow cards in the second half. Yamil Asad received one after a very hard tackle in the 61st minute that Marsch referenced in part of his answer, and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez near the end of the game.
After the draw, combined with other results, Atlanta United is in fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference with one game remaining. The Red Bulls are locked into the sixth and final playoff spot. When the playoffs start on Oct. 25 or 26, the third-place team in each conference will host the sixth-place team in a one-game playoff. The fourth-place team will host the fifth-place team.
Atlanta United could finish as high as second or as low as fifth, depending upon next week’s results.
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