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Atlanta United tough on Crew SC again in 2-0 win

PORTIONS OF GAME RECAP WRITTEN BY COLUMBUS CREW SC COMMUNICATIONS (Megan Scribner)

 

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan was tough to beat as he shut down the potent Crew SC offense (megasportsnews.com photo)

 

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE WITH BRAD GUZAN

Brad Guzan Atlanta United FC goalkeeper shutout Columbus 2-0 6 13 2018

 

Columbus Crew SC concluded its fourth home match in 12 days falling into a 2-0 loss to Atlanta United FC. The Eastern Conference leaders snapped Crew SC’s nine-game unbeaten streak and, in turn, goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s club leading shutout streak.

The Crew SC defense continued its strong season-long performance, limiting Atlanta’s chances and creating many counters that led to its own. However, the final breakthrough went missing, along with the eventual points for the Black & Gold.

Atlanta United FC controlled most of the tempo during the game. It prompted Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter to say ” he was not pleased with the team’s effort; they got outplayed and played with no real urgency!”

Crew SC has typically had trouble with Atlanta United FC, a second-year team in MLS. Overall, they are 0-3-0 vs. the team from the Peach State. However, in the MLS Playoffs last season, they won a key game at Atlanta.

Atlanta was on the board first via a header goal from Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez off of a corner kick. Crew SC’s Artur attempted to mark him, but Martinez committed to the play, injuring himself in the process by colliding with Artur. Atlanta struck again in the 82nd minute, leaving little time for Columbus to find a goal.

With Atlanta’s 30th minute goal, Steffen’s individual goalkeeper shutout streak ended at 8th all-time in Major League Soccer. The 23-year-old racked up 525 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal this season. During the game, he passed Nick Rimando and Kevin Hartman.

Columbus finished the match with 13 shots, three on target. The Black & Gold were neck-and-neck with Atlanta in passing accuracy (82 percent) but out-passed in the final third by 68 percent.

Atlanta United FC lead the MLS’s Eastern Conference at 10-3-3 for 33 points. While Crew SC drops to 7-4-6 with 27 points.

The Black & Gold take a 10-day break before continuing the season on the road at Los Angeles FC on Saturday, June 23. The match kicks off at Banc of California Stadium at 10:30 p.m. ET.

POST-MATCH QUOTES

Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On if their performance was ‘flat’ tonight

I think so. I think it was. I think that’s a good way to categorize it. It was a flat performance by us. We got beat tonight by a better team on the night. It’s frustrating. I think they didn’t have much going either, but they get the goal, and then they continued to push and they get the late goal again. But I just think for us it was not a great performance.

 

On what didn’t go well tonight for Crew SC

I think we set up a little bit differently and I’ll take responsibility maybe for the guys being out of sorts. I think we had a plan and the plan was to move the ball quickly to a certain area, and I didn’t think we executed that well. I didn’t think we were clean enough on the ball. I didn’t think our passing decisions were good enough. When you look back on it, you think, ‘okay, there’s a number of things that could have been better for sure.’

 

On if Crew SC created enough scoring chances

Yeah, I don’t think we created enough to be honest. I know the shots say 13, but I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with the ball circulation. It’s not what we had in mind. It’s not what we envisioned. There was some pockets of space that we wanted to attack, and I don’t think we did that well. You still have to give a team like Atlanta credit for not having much, but being able to capitalize on a corner kick to get the goal. We had a couple of chances that didn’t go in, but overall, we could have been much better tonight.

 

On the conclusion of a tough three-match stretch

Well I think the Eastern Conference is difficult. Games are going to be really tough, and I think that’s what this homestand showed. You look at Toronto who is a desperate team. I think Red Bulls is a very good team. Atlanta is a quality team… Probably one of the better teams in the League. So, you know games are going to be very tight. You know they are going to be decided by very little. You know you might not have a ton of opportunities and you have to capitalize when you do have them, and that wasn’t there. That wasn’t there in this game tonight.

 

On Crew SC’s mindset moving forward

We’ll give them a couple of days off after tomorrow. I think they’ve earned it – it’s been a busy stretch – and then prepare. I mean it’s not like there’s faith lost in this group. It’s a very good group. It’s a very good group. We lost a game tonight and we have to move on. It’s as simple as that. My philosophy is to make players better, and to keep improving, and that’s not going to change.

 

On Wil Trapp’s performance

I’m not going to comment about an individual in a critical way. I don’t think that’s fair. Wil [Trapp] was a guy that wanted to be on the field that was in Europe a couple of days ago. He had to come back and battle jet lag. I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss his performance.

 

On if Mike Grella was off the Gameday 18 for rest

Yeah it was. When you look at – Ricardo [Clark] started the last game and he wasn’t in the 18. Josh Williams started the last game and he wasn’t in the 18… and Mike [Grella]. It was just a case of rotating guys out and getting some new guys in. To be honest, I don’t think I got the selection right tonight. If I’m completely honest, I think we came up short in a couple of areas, and I think it could have been maybe different with a couple of other selections.

 

On if he considers the defense successful in limiting Atlanta’s offense

No. No. Again, I’m not pleased with the performance. I think it’s a subpar performance. I think our standard is higher than that. I think maybe a couple of individuals performed well defensively, but overall it’s not what we drew up.

 

On what he wanted from the 64th minute substitutions

Well I think we wanted to bring the ball centrally to get the ball wide. That was the idea. So, then we pushed our full backs higher. We brought pocket players in, and we thought we’d be either combining through the midfield or opening up space wide. If you see the chance when Harry [Harrison Afful] switches all the way to Milton [Valenzuela], and he goes across the front of the goal, that was a good example of that. Just, there team trying to combat the numbers in the middle and opening space wide.

Defender Milton Valenzuela

 

On Crew SC’s first loss since April 14

It has been a while since we lost, like four or five games. We’ve been winning, we’ve been doing well. At the same time, even though we lost today we are a team that always likes to force the action, we’re not going to sit back. We’re going to keep our heads high and get back at it again.

 

On Crew SC’s rhythm

It was a very even game, it was very even. It was mostly battled out in the midfield. What you saw was two teams that were attacking and they [Atlanta United FC] made the most out of [their] chances, we were not able to make the most out of our chances because, even though there weren’t any clear-cut chances, we did get chances but couldn’t convert them.

 

On the importance of the upcoming break

Yeah, it will be nice to get a break this weekend and we will be able to rest our legs as well as our minds.

Midfielder Artur

On whether Crew SC met its own expectations

For sure, I think we didn’t play [like] what was expected for us. We are staying happy, this kind of game will happen, but the most important thing is we have to keep the mentality to get better and keep playing better, because of the championship is long.

 

On the upcoming 10-day break

We have to use this break. We need to rest and see what we have to do better.

 

On Atlanta United FC

They have a good team. Us, we have a good team too. We are both in the top of the League and it was a hard game.