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Gonzalo Pineda: We gave them the opportunity

...and they ran with it.

MLS: US Open Cup-Atlanta United at Nashville SC Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, “frustrating” seems to be another theme of Atlanta United this year. The Five Stripes went up to Nashville for some U.S. Open Cup magic and up until half time things seemed to be going pretty well. Thiago Almada and Luiz Araujo both netted goals (with Araujo’s being insanely filthy) with Moreno being a prime part of both goals. However, the start of the second half didn’t bode well as the Five Stripes gave away a penalty kick to allow Nashville back in it 2-1. Andrew Gutman also went down with what appears to be a collarbone or shoulder injury, and then came the variety of subs and the tactical change that simply didn't pan out for Atlanta United.

Again, frustrating is about the only word to describe matches like this. The team doesn’t stay switched on for a full shift, which was a hot topic of conversation in the post match press conference. Regardless, it’s going to be a long bus ride back down to Atlanta after their Open Cup reign was brought to an end, with plenty of time to reflect on just how they can mold this team into a more well-rounded, consistent squad. Check out what Gonzalo Pineda and Matheus Rossetto had to say about the team’s performance.

Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda

On any injury update on Gutman:

“We don’t know what the injury is yet. We have to do tests.”

On the team maintaining concentration and intensity for the full 90 minutes tonight:

“No, I don’t think that happened. In certain moments little details, we talk about set pieces, we work a lot on set pieces, we work a lot on the long throw-ins. Just little pieces of lack of concentration or pressing at the right times. Anyways, I felt that the team fought. They did well for many parts, but it’s just that little pieces were not as focused and the opponent is very clinical. The opponent gets one chance and they put it in the net. Congrats to Nashville, they did a good job. But yeah, those little pieces of final concentration make the difference. I think we have a very young group and we need to learn from these types of stages where we didn’t succeed this time, but maybe if we face something similar in the future and this experience will help us.”

On the attack not putting as many shots on goal in second half:

“I felt we lost a little bit the possession and we started to drop back. They were very direct, the moments when we started to press, they would just kick long balls and that was causing us problems. I would to be a little more in the middle third with a middle block. At times defensively we looked solid, especially when we had to bring George Campbell on as a backline of five, we solidified the game in that part. Just the lack of possession, I wasn’t happy with. When we have to connect certain passes and we lose possession, we gave them the opportunity to come right back and attack. I felt like those are the moments of concentration that I’m talking about. It’s just about defending well or the angles, it’s about not sustaining possession of the ball in certain areas and progressing forwards. Stop attacking basically, and that’s what worries me a little bit. In those moments we need more composure on the ball and don’t give the ball away so easily.”

On if the heat affected the team’s play:

“No. The stadium was beautiful, the ground was beautiful. First half we played very very good. I felt that we were doing an excellent job. Even at moments in the second half, after their first goal, we started to connect those passes and finding the free man in behind their midfielders, but then we were lacking the runs in behind for the final pass. I felt that the chance that Ronaldo (Cisneros) had 1-v-1 with the keeper, where Zimmerman recovers is a very good play, but after that one we stopped doing those types of plays and again kudos to Nashville.”

On taking the free spaces better in the first half:

“Yes, we expected that. That was part of the gameplan. We expected them to be more in the middle block, low block looking for counters and being direct with the ball. I felt again that in the first half we did a good job, and the idea was to start the second half the same. Be on the front foot, but then the penalty comes early in the second half and that mentally affected my players. We couldn’t find that momentum to come back to that kind of football, and when we did we lost the ball right away. Then you get the set pieces, the throw-ins. The injury to Andrew Gutman obviously affected us and we had to modify a substitution that we didn’t plan for, but it’s part of the game. I think the guys fought until the end. We concede that second goal at the end of second half on a throw-in and that’s disappointing because we worked on that.”

On a lot of players going the full 120 minutes tonight and what that means for the weekend:

“Yes, there has to be some conversations there. I’m very proud of my physios and my sports science department. We are going to get the players ready to go again, but obviously we need to take care of that and regroup. We will manage the load on the players for sure.”

Atlanta United midfielder Matheus Rossetto

On why the team can’t stay focused for 90 minutes

“That’s one of the main aspects of the game that we are working on. There are little details where we can be more consistent. We’re scoring two or three goals but we’re working on those little details not to concede. Now we just go back to Atlanta, rest and try to improve every day, every training session to win as many games as possible.”

On players not making runs in the second half and how that affects his role and if as captain he told them to make runs

“As a captain or every day we talk during the games, being up 2-0 we knew that they were going to try to press us and do a lot of long balls and try to attack our back line. We obviously made some mistakes. We stopped making those runs in behind like Gonzalo said but we can not think back on it too much, we need to focus on looking forward.”

On what the conversation was like going into extra time

“The conversation was the same as always. The team was playing well, creating chances. Again, it’s the little details, paying attention to what’s going on, maintaining the focus and that was the conversation.”

On how physical the game was

“This is football. We have to be ready for games like this. It was hot so that changed a little bit what we’ve been used to playing lately. But this is football. Nashville is a physical team and we need to be ready for it.”

On what it means to be captain

“I spoke with Gonzalo and it was a surprise for me. This is an honor for me and I hope to continue to be the captain of this club this season.”