Atlanta United now have four trophies.
That’s more than other teams in the southeast have combined.
Pettiness aside, let’s dive into what Gonzalo Pineda, Rocco Rios Novo, and Ronaldo Cisneros had to say after winning the inaugural American Family Insurance Cup. The Five Stripes played the match using the majority of the players they have on both the first and second team rosters, with a fairly solid first choice XI playing the first 45 minutes. Josef Martinez once again showed his quality and capability after healing from his knee surgery, and though he’ll definitely feel like he should’ve had a hat trick, he found himself in some amazing spaces and obviously needs to simply shake the rust off. Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno were both vital to the attack, with Araujo slotting home an awkward shot shortly after Josef opened the goalscoring.
The defensive woes would rear their ugly head, though, and the Five Stripes would enter the half tied at 2-2. 10 changes were then made, with an outstandingly large group of Atlanta United 2 players entering along with Thiago Almada, Dom Dwyer, Alex de John, and Afar Sejdic. It wouldn’t be long before the 2’s held up their end of the bargain with Erik Centeno causing a turnover before playing it forward to Ajani Fortune, who then slipped it forward to Dom Dwyer who turned and slid the ball just wide of the goalkeeper's reach.
There is a lot to take from a game like this. Notably there were no injuries (presumably Santiago Sosa coming out after about 20 minutes was either cautionary or just to get Raimar or Machop Chol some time). The attack looked promising, and Rocco Rios Novo worked his way up towards a starting spot. However, the giveaways and set pieces continue to be an issue, and Pineda was clearly unhappy with that at the half. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the 2’s did a fairly solid job of defending corners and set pieces, so the defensive issues are not all gloom and doom. However, the supporter’s confidence is clearly shattered in how the team defends, so there is a lot of work to rebuild that trust back to where it was in previous years.
Whether it’s analyzed heavily or not, enjoy the fact that Atlanta United won a match against a good Liga MX side and now have a boost of confidence heading back into MLS play. In the meantime, check out what Pineda, Rios Novo, and Cisneros had to say after the win.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On tonight’s match:
“Well, I felt that it was a very interesting game. I felt that at times we showed the quality that we want to show with very good plays, very good chances. But again, with a little bit of the same, we concede a set piece goal and the morale of the team starts to go down and then we concede another one in a transition moment. Those are the moments that we have to use as lessons for us. But honestly, I was very pleased with the attitude, the effort, the futbol that they played tonight. It is something to build into for the next game with Miami.”
On Josef Martinez’s play
“Yes, I feel like that has a lot to do with what I been telling you before, when his knee wasn’t right. His knee wasn’t 100 percent. I’m positive about it. I remember last year I was telling you Josef is a warrior, it’s because I was seeing him play in pain. Now he feels much better. Now he is again back 100 percent physically, so now he can put this type of performances that was very good not only on the soccer side but also as a leader. I think that he was a good captain, he was the guy that was lifting the spirits of the team, pressing and starting the pressure getting inside the box, talking to his players and making them accountable of things and that is the type of Josef that we all love and we all want. I hope that these types of performances is something to build into the next few games.”
Atlanta United goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo
On Gonzalo Pineda’s comments that he exceeded his expectations and that he’s in the conversation to be a starter
“I feel good, I feel happy. First for everything that the team gave, for the game that they played and for the victory. And starting to play again and getting positive results makes me happy.”
On what the life of a young goalkeeper is like having to impress coaches
“I think for goalkeepers or young players, training with the team brings you up to their level, it helps you improve and train well. It’s a daily, constant training to improve your abilities and the weaknesses that each person has and to continue improving.”
How do you think you played tonight? What are your strengths and things to work on?
“I liked many aspects of the game. There are many things to improve, like always. At the moment I’m not analyzing them but I will tomorrow more calmly when I’m at home. But I’m happy for the victory, the performance of the team, and hopefully we continue like that. I felt good, very happy, which is important. You have to enjoy these types of games with the fans so I feel happy.”
Atlanta United forward Ronaldo Cisneros
His thoughts on the game
“Very good, a great game from the whole team and personally I felt good. I got to play with Josef and that’s a blessing for me. I’ve always said he’s a great player, very intelligent and with a lot of quality, he’s a reference for this club and my teammates who also have a lot of quality and today showed that. We created a lot of chances, especially in the first half, and this win gives us confidence against a team like Pachuca that reached the final of Liga MX.”
Again, four trophies, 5 1⁄2 years.