Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda was full of praise at full-time after his side put on a clinic against Inter Miami, who were without Lionel Messi on the night.
Although several Atlanta players put on brilliant performances at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night, the former Seattle Sounders assistant coach believed that the collective effort propelled his team to three points in front of 71,365 fans.
“Well, I would say everyone, we were just talking briefly in the coaching staff just now [after the game] and we’re talking about [how] everyone had a tremendous game,” said Pineda in a postgame press conference.
“I mean, Brad [Guzan] made some good saves, managing, controlling the tempo, very composed, good leader. As a team, I think we did great, seven assists in one game is a big, big achievement for the franchise. And then Thiago [Almada] having 15 assists, you know, is the number one in terms of assisting in one single season [in club history], so very happy with all of them.”
Pineda explained that so many of his players put on excellent showings that it wouldn’t be fair to continue highlighting only a few players.
“So, when you start to remember those names, you start to theink about all the good actions that they had tonight. So it would be unfair for me just to highlight one because it was a team effort.”
Pineda pointed out that before the game, he made sure to tell his players that they had to focus on their game and not about a certain Lionel Messi, who ended up not traveling with the Miami squad to Atlanta.
“Yes, it is Messi, Jordi Alba, [Facundo] Farias, [Sergio] Busquets, Tata Martino and Josef Martinez coming back to the Benz… I mean a lot of things that are out there in the atmosphere and everything seems to be about Inter Miami and Messi. And I told them (the players) that we have to turn that down to it’s about us, it’s about Atlanta United. In that sense, I told them: we have to play our game.”
The Five Stripes did just that despite trailing midway through the first half, and the home side went on to score three goals in eight minutes just before half time.
Above all, Pineda was proud of his side for playing their brand of soccer and not letting any external factors influence their preparation and performance in the win.
“I cannot be more proud of the team, the mentality… tonight they showed heart, they showed passion, they showed intelligence, good football,” Pineda said.
Atlanta, in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 45 points, will be looking to take that ‘good football’ into their next matchup as they take on DC United at Audi Field on September 20 with just five games remaining in the regular season.
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