Before the Five Stripes four-game road trip (mercifully) ends in Salt Lake City this Saturday, Tata Martino spoke to the media through a translator about the road trip, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium fiasco and, of course, red cards.
Thankfully news emerged just after the press conference that Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s red card had been rescinded and he’ll be available for this weekend’s match against Real Salt Lake. However, Martino explained that the team had been preparing to be without him.
“We trained today like Leandro is going to be out for a game, but if that changes then we’ll make adjustments,” Martino said. “Normally it will be Anton Walkes [filling in]. Anton and Miles [Robinson] are both capable of stepping in at center back, so if Leandro can’t play it will be one of those two.”
Including the red card against Chicago Fire’s Johan Kapelhoff, four of Atlanta’s six games this season have seen a red card. Martino said that it’s possible MLS referees have been too quick to reach for cards this season.
“Usually when a team has accumulated a bunch of cards then you need to have a discussion about how to handle that. But in our case, at least in the last two red cards, we were punished for things that maybe didn’t deserve cards,” Martino said. “I think, not just for us but maybe for the league in general, there have been excessive red cards this season from trying to stop attacking players.”
In more good red card news, Yamil Asad returns Saturday from his one-game suspension due to his red card against Toronto. The match with Real Salt Lake ends a lengthy four-game road trip that has seen Atlanta take just two points from three games. Martino says that the team is just trying to make the best of its long stay away from home.
“It’s nothing that we didn’t know about before. We’re just trying to handle it as best we can,” Martino said. ”I’m adjusting to playing four games on the road as well. I think Saturday was actually our best performance. The first two we took a point and the third one we played our best game.”
While Real Salt Lake doesn’t possess the firepower of the trip’s first three opponents, Martino was quick to point out that being on the road gives RSL and newly installed manager Mike Petke a chance to put their best foot forward in attack.
“The same challenge that all road games present is playing against teams that try to implement their style at home. Salt Lake especially in the midfield and attacking wise, they have some talented players,” Martino said.
Meanwhile, as some fans collectively lose their minds over yet another delay in the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Martino wasn’t concerned with the effect it might have on the team.
“We just have to adapt to the way that construction is going and how the workers are finishing the job, but really for us, it's not an issue,” Martino said. “Either way we’ll just be creating more expectations for the first game.”
- Tyrone Mears, who missed the Montreal game due to a right ankle injury, seemed to be moving normally during scrimmaging late in training. Martino said that Mears would receive further evaluation tomorrow.
- Josef Martinez was not at training today (at least during media access), but Tata did say there is a timetable for his return.
- Jacob Peterson is out with a muscular issue and will be out at least another week.