Well, that was a hootenanny. This game between Atlanta United and Toronto just felt like Halloween. I’m going to give a brief summary simply because a lot of the following quotes need some context, because that correspondence was just weird.
Luiz Araújo scored a goal that everyone, including Toronto’s keeper, thought he was sending a left-footed bolt of lightning, but instead he scraped off the kick and sent a thing that slowly sailed over the keeper’s head. Then, sometime in the second half, Ezequiel Barco was felt to be hit from behind for the 82nd time, adding to what turned out to be the absolute cluster muffin of a mass confrontation. He and Toronto’s Auro were sent off with red cards, while Alan Franco and Jozy Altidore were near blows. Then Auro tried to chase Barco down the tunnel and a random Toronto player shoved Rob Valentino in the back. No, this is not Jerry Springer, that was a real professional football game that was played in Canada.
When the game finally resumed as 10v10, Brad Guzan made one of the most brilliant saves of the season after an extremely strong header threatened the 1-1 game. Shortly afterwards, however, Marcelino “Mando” Moreno (no, I will not stop) met a nice ball from Alan Franco. He had help from George Bello running up the left side but decided to keep him and take a shot while it literally fell and he pushed him right past the goalkeeper to close the game 2-0 iced over.
Now, with all this madness, check out what Gonzalo Pineda, George Bello and Luiz Araújo had to say about the game.
Gonzalo Pineda, Atlanta United head coach:
About his tactical setup tonight:
“First of all, thank you very much, but it’s not always just the game plan. What works is when the players apply the game board. It’s the players’ understanding of time and space so it’s always an honor for the players. Tactically, the team understands the concepts of when to play between the lines and when to play behind. I thought that at some point, with more faith in the game, we would build that dominance on these positions. So I am very happy with your movements. Especially (Ezequiel) Barco and Marcelino (Moreno) swap positions on the left. (George) Bello attacked the room very well. I felt like the players understood the tactics overall and they worked today. “
On Marcelino Moreno’s performance in the game:
“At Marcelino, everything revolved around load management. I got the feeling that he looked a little tired and today he was at his best. He was aggressive when dribbling; he was successful with his duels. Winning many of these duels in attack and finding these loopholes. But I could say the same thing about Barco or (Luiz) Araujo or one of the midfielders. It was a complete and good win tonight. Of course Marcelino was massive tonight, but the togetherness, the fighting for each other, the offensive and defensively won duels of the entire team were fantastic. I enjoyed watching a team from the sidelines fighting for every ball and that makes us proud as coaches. “
To decide about the Barco postponement:
“Very difficult to say. I felt like the game was getting a little out of control in places. The game’s management may not have been the best. Then, in the game where they are trying to return the ball to us, I don’t know if Jozy Altidore did not understand that it was our ball and they were trying to return it. So my team started to react there. Then I only saw a bit of it at Barco and Auro and I don’t know if it’s a red card. You checked it out. To be honest, I didn’t see a direct red card for Barco or Auro. Maybe the referee saw it better. I’ll try to check it out on TV and see if we can do something because from my point of view it was not red for either player. “
On the importance of winning this roadmatch:
“This is a tremendous victory. The timing of that victory, the location – Atlanta won the first time in Toronto – and the timing. We had six games left and that away game was a very good statement from the team that said, “Hey, we really want to be in the playoffs”. I need this trend for the next three games at home. I needed that confidence, that mood in the dressing room after the game. It was a tremendous victory. I feel like the team understood how to play away from home. Dictate the pace and manage key moments of the game in the second half. Maybe we can finish the game a few goals earlier, but I felt like the team understood at certain moments when to play and I’m happy with that. “
To execute what the team has been working on over the past two weeks:
“Yes, I think before we can score we have to create the chances. So I’m very happy. I think we had enough chances to finish the game. Of course we could be more clinical. I think we still had a few chances to score, but we didn’t make it. So we still have to carry this trend of being clinical at the right moments. But at the same time we scored two goals in a difficult stadium, against a good team and a good coach. So we will continue to act aggressively, but I am satisfied with the performance tonight. “
On the performance of Matheus Rossetto tonight:
“Well, Rossetto’s starting position is more like a double middle with Santiago Sosa. Obviously he was very good at breaking lines. We prefer Santi to stay as the holding center-back, then Rossetto will have some freedom to attack the space in front of him. I got a feeling Rossetto had a massive game too, you’re right. This pair works a lot better. With every game they keep improving and continuing that good relationship. Today Rossetto was very effective in the middle third and some also in the attacking third. The main responsibility for him is to set the pace and control the moments when we break lines or when we need ball possession. I felt that the payment was working very well. Same goes for Franco Ibarra and Amar Sejdic, who did a good job keeping the game out and controlling the pace. In general, I’m very happy with the midfielders we have. “
Atlanta United Defender George Bello:
How important this win was to secure a playoff spot:
“I thought that was very important. In every away game you should try to get a result, especially in the situation we are in right now. So this victory was great. You could tell in the locker room after the game that all the boys were happy and excited. We know we’re not there yet. Hopefully we can maintain this momentum on Wednesday and continue from there. “
This was a growth game for the team that managed the outcome:
“Certainly. There has definitely been progress in that regard. We went up before halfway and got into the locker room and just said we had to go through the next 45 together and be smart. Of course there was some chaos in the end, but overall I had the feeling that we handled the pressure very well. I’m glad we came out with the win. “
When attacking Toronto on the left flank and when that was the game plan:
“Um, not necessarily. I feel like we have talent everywhere, so both our left and right sides are super talented. I just feel like that’s how the game went. Miles (Robinson) and I came back on Thursday, traveled here on Friday so didn’t have much time to plan. We have a lot of talent so it’s easy to just come in and play football. “
On what he saw in the red card incident:
“I stopped looking for a second but when I looked the two were just, I wouldn’t say it was headbutt, just the foreheads that came together were some kind of action. I wouldn’t say it should have been red cards for both of them. I think you could have just kept playing, maybe you warn. But I didn’t see it exactly. It is what it is, so we just have to move on. “
How this group manages games:
“I feel like we’re getting a lot better at this. We are making progress as you watch this game. We have such a talented group of players. It’s more than talented, it’s crazy. The talent is there when we have that mentality and know that not all games are perfect. You need to dig deep and get results like today. If we continue like this we’ll be fine and make the playoffs, hopefully we can do it. “
Atlanta United striker Luiz Araújo
When he wanted to hit the ball the way he did on his goal
“I didn’t try to hit it that way. Luck was on my side. All good players need a little luck sometimes, but the most important thing was helping Atlanta United win. There have been other games where I hit the ball well and didn’t hit it, but I’m glad this one went in. “
On the ball that didn’t go in for him in previous games and when he feels relief
“Yes, I didn’t hit and the gate didn’t open. That was a clear burden on my shoulders to score my second goal and I will work hard to achieve my third and fourth goals. The most important thing is to help the team and keep winning. “
What Gonzalo Pineda asked him about tonight
“That I stay focused and concentrated during the game. I think Gonzalo is very important to all of us. He’s a great coach and I look forward to working with him and winning. “
How hard it is to play with a wrong nine
“I don’t think it’s very difficult. We have quality players. We work a lot during the week to play like that. The most important thing is that we get three points. “
How it goes on individually for him
“To win all the games we have left. The goal is to reach the playoffs. Take it from game to game and then think about winning a title. “
On when he feels pressure
“I don’t feel any pressure. I’m used to playing soccer. I work a lot to help Atlanta and I think it’s going well during this adjustment process and I hope my performances keep getting better. “
This has been a wonderful result to start the last six games and hopefully Atlanta can get the red card revoked so Barco can play NYCFC on Wednesday. Even so, Atlanta created some great opportunities and put players in dangerous positions. More specifically, Moreno could have done a hat trick and then he would have lost a fraction of the incredible chances he ended up having. Now the Five Stripes need to keep that momentum when they get home to the Benz, and the Brazilian chef said it best, “Win every game we have left”.
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