What they said after Atlanta United’s win against Philadelphia

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez scores his third goal of the night on a penalty kick for the hat trick and a 3-1 victory against Philadelphia Union during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Atlanta. Martinez is now tied for the MLS record for career hat tricks with 5. He is the fastest player in MLS history to achieve this.    Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez scores his third goal of the night on a penalty kick for the hat trick and a 3-1 victory against Philadelphia Union during the second half in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Atlanta. Martinez is now tied for the MLS record for career hat tricks with 5. He is the fastest player in MLS history to achieve this. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

What was said after Atlanta United's 3-1 win against Philadelphia on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino

On Josef Martinez tying the MLS record for career hat tricks in tonight's match: "I think playing 11 versus nine for that long of a stretch, it was logical that he was going to find spaces tonight and find some goals, so it's good for him now that he's tied the record. And now the next step is to break the record so he's not tied with anyone."

On if he has experienced anything like the referee situation with Philadelphia tonight before: “I can't say for sure exactly what happened there. I think (Haris) Medunjanin must have been sent off for a verbal comment that he made to the ref, and (Alejandro) Bedoya I'm not sure what happened, if that was his second yellow for the foul or something after that. But I understand that players get frustrated and they can lose their temper sometimes. I don't know if it was offside, I haven't seen if it was a foul either on the penalty. I didn't know what happened on the first one. I couldn't tell if he was offside or if a foul occurred but the second one I thought you could tell right away that it was a penalty without looking at VAR. The whole stadium saw that it was a penalty.”

On why he thinks the team did not quite take advantage of the two-man advantage well enough: “I think it could have been physical. I think it could have been mental. When a team goes up two players, one of two things can happen: you can score goals quickly and put the other team away, or you can suffer a little bit, or if not suffer at least make it difficult on yourselves, and I think that if this game had been eleven on eleven it would have been a difficult game. I have the thought that it's even possible that we lose this game if it's eleven on eleven.”

On people who diminish Josef Martinez’s hat tricks: “I don’t know the statistics of all of Josef’s hat tricks so I don’t know how he’s scored them. But you have to score goals. Whether they’re penalties, against 11 players, 10 players, nine players. ... It’s always difficult to score goals. We lost two points against New England because we couldn’t score goals. So I wouldn’t take away any credit from Josef for scoring that many hat tricks in a year and a half in the league.”

On his thoughts of the team not playing well, if it is because of missed chances: “Missed chances are never a cause for concern. You work, you keep trying. When a team misses chances like we have in recent games or like we did tonight, it’s never a reason to worry. It’s concerning when a team isn’t intelligent to play 11 versus nine, to circulate the ball from side to side and get a lot of people in the box to finish the play. I have the feeling that we played more individually then collectively when we were up two players. All of our scoring chances came in the second half when we were doing the things I’m talking about, circulating the ball from side to side quickly. After the penalty, in the following 35 minutes until the end of the first half, we didn’t create as many chances as we should have. We had some individual chances, but not collectively.”

On why Chris McCann was substituted at halftime: “Because he felt some fatigue in the area where he suffered the injury and I thought it wasn’t worth risking it, especially with this stretch of games that we have coming up and we need everyone available. So for precaution, I took him out of the game.”

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez

On tying the MLS record for hat tricks in a career: “First of all, I’m just really happy that the team was able to get the victory tonight. That’s the most important thing. It had been a couple games since we had won at home, so we knew that winning the game was important coming into tonight. Obviously when you are able to score, I am happy for the goals and happy that it helped the team. It’s time to enjoy the moment and then start thinking about the next game.”

On if feels that this was his best game: “I don’t know if it was my best game, but if you think so, I appreciate it. I’ve had some good games. We’ve had some good games as a team. Sometimes, people don’t notice the defensive work that we do. Tonight, I had to do some. I’m just happy to help the team.”

On why he took the penalty kicks: “I know the goalkeeper. I thought he was going to wait until the last second when I was kicking it and Miguel (Almiron) told me to just hit a rocket. … Miguel wanted to take the first one but I thank him for letting me take it because we take turns. It’s just whoever’s up.”

On the conditions with the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium being open: “It was even hotter, but I think it looked nice out there.”

Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst

 On the red cards and VAR decisions not going against Atlanta: "It's bittersweet. You feel for them because it killed the game. The first one was just a little unnecessary, but you have to be smart. The second one, obviously, he just lost his cool and the game is over."

 On the difficulty of putting that game away: "There were some different circumstances tonight. We were up two guys, and we just took our foot off the pedal. In the first half especially, we were trying to do it individually. We were dribbling too much, not moving the ball quick enough and we weren't sharp enough. We were kind-of like, oh, we're up two guys. We can take it easy and cruise. Philly dug in and defended well. They had a lot of energy and made it difficult for us. We needed to be sharper and that was the message at halftime. We came out with the right attitude and created a bunch of chances early. We gave up a goal on a set piece, which we didn't want to do, but we kept going and put pressure on them. I'm happy Josef (Martinez) got the hat trick and got some confidence today."

 On the upcoming matches against NYCFC and Columbus Crew: "It's two of the toughest games in the league. Away in NYC is the toughest game on the schedule just given the opponent and the field conditions. It's really difficult to play there, and they play so well on their home field. It will be a tough challenge for us. It was one of our worst games last year, so we want to go out there and have a better performance this year against them. Columbus is right there, as well. We know they are perennially one of the better teams in the league. It's going to be a tough stretch for us after the game, but we'll be ready for it. We want to go into the World Cup break, or off weekend, with some separation."

On the conditions with the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium being open: “It was tough today. It was really hot. It was really humid. Usually, we don’t have to worry about that. It’s cool when you look up, but other than that, we sweat a lot more.”

Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe

On the Philadelphia red cards and altercation with the referee: “I didn’t know what happened. I was asking their guys. I guess it was just descent, but I didn’t see the play, so I don’t know what happened. I think the first yellow was for encroachment, but after that, I’m not too sure.”

On the confidence boost for the Open Cup: “It’s good to win in multiple ways, but today wasn’t the cleanest. We scored three goals, but we could’ve been better.”

On Josef Martinez tying the MLS record for hat tricks in a career: “He showed how hungry he is. Even in training, he wants to score goals and cares about scoring goals. He’s a winner and goal scorer, and he does big things for our team. He’s a great striker.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On the refereeing incidents tonight and if he had seen anything like it before: “It was unfortunate. You can understand their emotions for sure but, no, I haven’t really seen anything like that before. Honestly, I was trying to break it up because I thought that both sides – the ref and the players – had kind-of valid points and if you could just come and diffuse the situation maybe we could all move on and play a normal game, but that wasn’t the case and the game was obviously altered dramatically.”

On why he thinks the Philadelphia players were protesting to the referee:  “I think they were upset about the call – the penalty – but when the ref goes to give (Alejandro) Bedoya his second yellow, I think they feel that he doesn’t understand the situation and he’s giving him a yellow in a situation where that early in the game, to warrant a second yellow on a play like that is something that’s unnecessary. I think that’s how they felt. You’d have to ask them, but I think that the first thing that (Haris) Medunjanin says to the ref is ‘That’s his second yellow’ like kind of ‘how could you’ so, you can understand the frustration, but there’s really no excuse to go after the ref like that. Afterwards, like I said, I was just trying to make sure that nothing else happened and everyone could kind-of just move on.”

On if he saw a Philadelphia player spit at the referee: “No, I didn’t see that. I didn’t see that.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On what he thinks the team can take from this performance: “Three points. It’s the way the games go sometimes it’s unbelievable. I haven’t really been a part of such things like have happened to us this year, but we didn’t play that well, I thought, but we’ll take three points. Sometimes, those games are harder than playing against eleven. So, ultimately, we’re going to have a win and that’s all that matters.”

On elaborating on what he means by saying those games are harder: “You prepare all this time playing against eleven and they obviously kind-of have that extra edge a bit where they’re like ‘Oh, I’ve got to work extra hard’ and they sit so deep and they just defend with everything that they have and sometimes, it just makes it more difficult.”

On if he was nervous that ‘a repeat of the New England game would occur with a late goal when they were only up by one goal’:  “To be honest, I didn’t think about that. No. I mean, I knew we were going to get chances in the second half and we were only up 1-0 at halftime, but I knew we were going to get chances just because the quality that we have. Playing against nine guys, sometimes, if you just circulate the ball well enough then you’re going to get chances and you know how the game goes and then we finish some of those off and we take the three points.”

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin

On his overall assessment on the game tonight versus Atlanta United:  “Overall, most importantly and first and foremost, full credit to our players. They left everything on the field. Gave the city everything, gave the badge everything, gave me everything. Could not be prouder of the heart that they showed over the course of 90 minutes. It’s obviously hard enough to come to this building, with the crowd, with the quality players and team that they have to get a result. Moving forward now, obviously there are controversial plays in the game. You have an instance where is it a pk? Is it not a pk? Okay, you can live with they review it, and they look at it. I can only speak the facts, and this what I’ve seen and what I know. Ale Bedoya is standing inside the D fixing his sock, pulling his sock up. Sorin took that as delaying a penalty kick. From everything that the Atlanta players have told me, from what the fourth official said, he had no idea that Ale was already on a yellow card, which is a mistake.

I understand as human beings, I understand that it’s a difficult game to ref. I understand that there is 50,00 people here and it’s loud and there is the heat of the moment. But I would love for him to come out and just say and own it and say that he made a mistake. It’s not worthy of a second yellow card to the captain of our team in that moment. From there, we do need to do a better job of keeping calm, maybe somebody needs to grab Harris when he loses his mind a little bit. We need to keep our composure a little better in that moment and now you’re playing against the top team in our league down two men, which is no easy test.

Again there are things that weigh into it. I warned our guys at the beginning of this week that you know Atlanta in the past two weeks have had some tough calls against them. They’ve publicly came out and criticized the officiating, they paid pretty hefty fines for it. I warned them it would be us versus the crowd and some difficult decisions. Don’t expect decisions to go our way. It happened in a bad way and I would say that we were behind the eight ball obviously from the start of the game playing down two men. It’s a shame because I think we started the game in the first 15 minutes very well. I think it would have been a very good game, unfortunately it was ruined and again credit to their fans. I think they influenced the referee. I think that everything they have built here, and I mean this as a compliment, is impressive and it does sway human beings. There is quality on the field with their players. The atmosphere they create here, maybe made some rash decisions to be made. Sometimes it’s best to step back and assess the situation and maybe make the right call and slow down a little bit.

The number one thing, and this is going to sound crazy, that I’m actually mad about is the instance of the Fabinho handball. Is it a handball? Absolutely it’s a handball. But what happened on the field and this is the hardest one for me to swallow. The referee is actually, Atlanta goes to take a quick throw-in, if that ball comes in play there is no opportunity for VAR review. The referee actually has his hand up telling him to stop and slow down so that he can get a quick word in. If the guy throws it in and decides that, that’s on them and it’s unreviewable. Again, man, it’s a tough day and I hope he comes out and at least is honest and admits some mistakes. That’s all you’re asking for. Aagain I will have no ill will towards him, because mistakes happen. We are all human beings. But there should be a little more accountability. I hope someone can ask him a question, as I’m going to get asked questions from different people after losing a game. So it’s tough, I know it’s a tough job that they have, but overall I think what would have been a very good game and I think our guys were really up for the game today, got ruined.”

On the response of his team after going down early, given the stage here and starting two 19-year center backs, and if it's something he is ultimately proud of:  "Yeah, I mean the firepower they have on the field, (Miguel) Almiron, (Ezequiel) Barco, (Josef) Martinez, and again I think we actually did a good job on Martinez, he gets two penalty kicks and gets in between our center backs, it's tough to say you did well with a guy and he gets a hat trick. But overall, for two 19-year old kids down two men to play the way they did with the heart and guts they played, I don't even want to name names, because Crevalle, Gattis, Fabinho, Sapong, Fafa, Epps, Ilsinho comes into the game, Cory Burke, I'm proud of all the guys that came in and left a big mark on the game. Andre made some great saves, in a weird way I think our team will become stronger because of this. I think that we lost arguably our three best players because we have to make a sub and now Borek Dockal has to come out of the game, so it changed, obviously. That frantic moment changed the entire complexity of the game. You know, three of our best players are out, and I give our group a heck of a lot of credit. Young guys in an tough atmosphere, with an incredible team in Atlanta, to keep them at bay and only concede two penalty kicks for down a man for almost 80 minutes if you add extra time. So in a strange way, it is a positive, it is something our fans can look at and say that team fights, that team does not quit, that team will do anything for our fans and for the badge so it's a weird feeling right now, because again it's a loss but at the same time I think there is something more to it and now we have to turnaround quickly start our Open Cup run and then have a tough Toronto team coming into our home building, into Talen Energy Stadium, and then we have a little bit of a break for the World Cup. So, have to finish strong with two wins here, but I still think there is something in this game although it's a 3-1 loss, I think our group got a lot stronger and I could not be more proud of the heart they showed."

On how the locker room feels after showing a sense of collective fight despite facing adversity tonight:  “Yeah, obviously Ale and Harris are the first two to say to the guys incredible effort, incredible fight, so again yeah the group is together. They are disappointed because they lost, but they do know that even at halftime lets keep going, we are going to get one. We created chances even down two men in the first half. So there was belief the entire time, great for Fafa to get the goal, make Atlanta scramble a little bit, obviously it wasn’t enough on the night, but you knew it was going to be a tough task again with what Atlanta brings to the table. We’ll regroup and I think we will grow and hopefully one of the red cards gets rescinded and the right things are done and maybe things can get fixed. Again you just want things to happen and be the right way. I have said and backed the referees a ton all year, all my entire coaching career. I understand they have a difficult job, but again if there is a mistake made just admit it and I can live with that and that’s totally fine. So hopefully that’s what happens and you know you can’t erase what happened afterwards but at the same time I hope he does the right thing.”

Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin

On the red card: "I think we controlled the game in the first 20 minutes. We dominated. Then, the ref decided to them the PK for no reason at all. Everyone saw that it was not a penalty. We are in this stadium with this crowd and you get scared then whistle for the home team. That is what happened today. We knew that coming here with the four wins in a row that they are a tough team to beat, and to rob us like this… I think everybody gets criticized. The players get criticized when they don't play well. The coaches are criticized when they don't win. The referees should be criticized. He (Sorin Stoica) didn't even know that our captain (Alejandro) Bedoya had a yellow card which is why he gave him another yellow card. I don't like that, and that's why I get mad. When something is unfair, I cannot control myself because we were fighting to win the game. I lost myself, and in ten seconds, he gave me two yellow cards. After that, I think the team played well. They even controlled the game with nine men. Even though Atlanta scored three goals and won 3-1, I think we played very well with two men sent off. We even got one back. It's disappointing that the game went like this. In a stadium like this, you need to have a referee that has confidence and is not scared by the crowd. If it is not a penalty, it's not a penalty. Still, there are four people reviewing, and it was still a penalty. I don't understand Stoica. He just blew the game and robbed us of a victory."