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Luiz Araújo: Win All the Games We Have Left

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This is an outstanding plan.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was a hootenanny. This Atlanta United vs Toronto match just felt like Halloween. I’m going to give a quick recap simply because many of the quotes below need some context, because this match was just strange.

Luiz Araújo scored a goal where everyone, including Toronto’s keeper, thought he was going to send a left-footed lightning bolt but instead he scuffed the kick and sent a dinger that just slowly sailed over the keeper’s head. Then, sometime in the second half Ezequiel Barco was knocked into from behind for what felt like the 82nd time, which was a contributing factor in what turned out to be an absolute cluster-muffin of a mass confrontation. He and Toronto’s Auro were sent off with straight red cards, while Alan Franco and Jozy Altidore almost came to blows. Then Auro tried to chase Barco into the tunnel, and a random Toronto player shoved Rob Valentino in the back. No, this is not Jerry Springer, this was an actual professional soccer match...played in Canada.

When the game finally got restarted as a 10 vs 10, Brad Guzan made one of the most brilliant saves of the season after an extremely strong header threatened to make the match 1-1. Shortly after that though, Marcelino “Mando” Moreno (no, I’m not going to stop) found himself on the receiving end of a beautiful ball from Alan Franco. He had some help from George Bello making a run up the left but decided to keep it and take a shot while literally falling, and he slid it right past the keeper to ice the game 2-0.

Now, with all of that insanity in mind, check out what Gonzalo Pineda, George Bello, and Luiz Araújo had to say about the match.

Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:

On his tactical setup tonight:

“First of all thank you, but it’s not always just the game plan. What works is when the players apply the game plan. It’s the players understanding of time and space, so it’s always a credit to the players. Tactically the team understand the concepts, when to play in between the lines, when to play in behind. I thought that at some point, with more confidence in the game, we were establishing that dominance in those positions. So, I’m very pleased with their movements. Especially (Ezequiel) Barco and Marcelino (Moreno) interchanging positions on the left side. (George) Bello was attacking the space very good. I felt overall the players understood the tactics, and today they worked.”

On Marcelino Moreno’s performance in the match:

“It was all about the load management with Marcelino. I felt that he looked a little bit tired, and today he showed at his very best. He was aggressive on the dribble; he was successful with his duels. Winning many of those duels in the attack and finding those gaps. But I could say the same about Barco or (Luiz) Araujo or any of the midfielders. It was a complete and good victory tonight. Obviously, Marcelino was massive tonight, but the togetherness, the fighting for each other, the winning duels both offensively and defensively by the whole team was fantastic. I was enjoying watching from the sideline a team that was competing for every ball, and that’s what makes us proud as coaches.”

On the decision around the Barco sending off:

“Very difficult to tell. I felt that at some points, the game was a little bit out of control. The management of the game maybe wasn’t the best. Then on the play where they try to give us the ball back, I don’t know if Jozy Altidore didn’t understand that it was our ball and they were trying to give it back. So my team was starting to react there. Then I just saw a little bit of it with Barco and Auro, and I don’t know if it’s a red card. They reviewed it. Honestly, I didn’t see a straight red card for Barco or Auro. Maybe the referee saw it better. I will try to check it on tv and see if we can do something because from my perspective it was not a red for either player.”

On the importance of winning this road match:

“It’s a massive victory. The timing of this victory, the place – it’s the first time Atlanta has won in Toronto – and the timing. We had six games left, and winning this one away was a very good statement from the team saying “hey we really want to be in the playoffs”. I need this trend for the next three games at home. I needed this confidence, this mood in the locker room after the game. It was a massive victory. I feel that the team understood how to play away. Dictating the tempo and managing key moments of the game in the second half. Maybe we can finish the game with a couple goals earlier, but I felt overall the team understood when to play in certain moments and I’m happy with that.”

On the execution of what the team worked on in last two weeks:

“Yes, I feel that before we can score goals we need to create the chances. In that sense, I’m very happy. I feel we had enough chances to kill the game. Obviously, we could be more clinical. I think we had a few more chances where we could score, but we didn’t. So, we still need to carry that 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 good coach. So, we will continue the sharpness in attacking but I’m happy with the performance tonight.”

On the performance from Matheus Rossetto tonight:

“Well Rossetto’s initial position is more of a double center-mid with Santiago Sosa. Obviously he was very good at breaking lines. We prefer Santi to stay as a holding center-mid, then Rossetto has some freedom to attack the space in front of him. I felt that Rossetto had a massive game as well, you are correct. That pair is working way better. Every game they continue to improve, and continue that good relationship. Today, Rossetto was very impactful in the middle third and some in the attacking third as well. The main responsibility for him is to dictate the tempo and managing the moments of when we break lines or when we need possession. I felt that paid did very well. Same for Franco Ibarra and Amar Sejdic who did a good job to shut out the game and control the tempo. In general, I’m very happy with the midfielders we have.”

Atlanta United defender George Bello:

On how important this win was to secure a playoff berth:

“I felt it was very important. Every away game you should try to get a result, especially in the predicament we are in now. So, getting this win was big. You could tell after the game in the locker room, all the lads were happy and excited. We know that we aren’t there yet. Hopefully we can keep this momentum pushing on Wednesday and go from there.”

On this was a game of growth for the team, managing the result:

“For sure. There was for sure progress in that regard. We went up before half and we came into the locker room and just said that we need to get through these next 45 together and be smart. Obviously, there was some chaos at the end there but overall, I felt that we handled the pressure really well. I’m happy we came out with the win.”

On attacking Toronto down the left flank and if that was the game plan:

“Um, not necessarily. I feel that we have talent all over the field, so both our left side and right side are super talented. I just feel like that’s just how the game went. Miles (Robinson) and I got back on Thursday, traveled here on Friday, so there wasn’t much time to game plan. We have a lot of talent, so it’s easy to just come in and play soccer.”

On what he saw on the red card incident:

“I stopped looking for a second, but when I looked the two were just, I wouldn’t say it was head butting, just the foreheads coming together kind of action. I wouldn’t say it should have been a red card for either of them. I think you could have just kept playing, maybe give a caution. But I didn’t a clear look of it. It is what it is, so we just have to move on.”

On how this group manages games:

“I feel like we are getting much better at it. We are making progress, if you look at this game. We have such a talented group of players. It’s beyond talented, it’s crazy. The talent is there, once we have that mentality and knowing that not all games are going to go perfect. You have to dig deep and get results like today. If we keep doing that, we will be fine and make the playoffs, hopefully we will.”

Atlanta United attacker Luiz Araújo

On if he meant to hit the ball the way that he did on his goal

“I didn’t try to hit it like that. Luck was on my side. All good players need some good luck at times but the most important thing was to help Atlanta United get this win. There have been other games where I hit the ball well and didn’t score but I’m happy that this one went in.”

On the ball not going in for him in past matches and if he feels a relief

“Yes, I wasn’t scoring and the goal wasn’t opening. This was a clear weight off my shoulders getting my second goal and I’m going to work hard to get my third and fourth and the most important thing is to help the team and keep winning.”

On what Gonzalo Pineda asked from him tonight

“That I stay focused and concentrated during the game. I think Gonzalo is very important for all of us. He’s a great coach and I’m happy to be working with him and to win.”

On how hard it is playing with a false nine

“I don’t think it’s very difficult. We have players with a lot of quality. We work a lot during the week to play like that. The most important thing is that we’re taking three points.”

On what’s next for him individually

“To win all the games we have left. The goal is to make the playoffs. Take it game-by-game and then think about winning a title.”

On if he feels pressure

“I don’t feel pressure. I’m used to playing football. I’m working a lot to help Atlanta and I think it’s going well during this process of adaptation and I hope that my performances keep getting better.”


This was a wonderful result to start the final six game stretch, and hopefully Atlanta can get the red card rescinded so Barco can play against NYCFC on Wednesday. No matter what though, Atlanta created some outstanding opportunities and put players into dangerous positions. Specifically, Moreno could’ve had himself a hat trick and then some had he put away a fraction of the amazing chances he was on the end of. Now the Five Stripes need to keep that momentum rolling as they come home to the Benz, and the Brazilian Chef said it best, “Win all the games we have left.”