Players applaud, Timbers @ Atlanta, 12.8.18
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

MLS Cup Quotes & Notes | Atlanta United FC 2, Portland Timbers 0 | Dec. 8, 2018

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
On the evaluation of the game and how he would look back at this season…
“I’m extremely proud of the work the guys have given to this season. To be able to get to this stage, MLS Cup, you need to sacrifice. You need to put everything into it. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they put in this whole season, but the work they put in today. I thought our guys made it difficult for them. In this environment, in this stadium, we had good moments in the game. Overall, I couldn’t have asked more of my players. They gave everything and I’m very proud of the season.”

On the difficulty of playing in this stadium and the magnitude of the match…
“Playing in a stadium like this is always more difficult. I think it was a motivation for us. I didn’t see a side of my team that we were afraid of the moment and the location of the venue. We showed up to play and did some good things. In the first half, we prevented them from getting a lot of spaces. Yes, there were some moments they found space, but we were good in closing those spaces quickly. We kept the ball where we wanted. We were a little more courageous in the second half and getting the ball where we wanted. I think the momentum was killed by the referee on the foul that wasn’t a foul. In the second half, it was pretty even, but when we had more momentum going forward, that second goal really hurt us.”

On his assessment of Josef Martinez…
“Josef has been a very good player the entire season. It was going to be difficult today. I thought we did a good job of preventing him from getting on the ball. But he found that first goal and that’s when good strikers have opportunities, they have to make sure they are able to put those away. He did that tonight. I don’t think that it was only a Josef game. Their team put in a good fight as did our team tonight. Everyone that was in the stadium saw a good game tonight.”

On if he expected to have a physical game…
“We expected a difficult and physical match for sure. We knew they were going to play this way for sure. They were trying to be pragmatic, they were going to be very vertical going forward. We played to try and win. It was a good fight and a good match.”

Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On how proud he is of being a part of this MLS Cup Final…
“It was OK. It was a final and every final has a little extra excitement. Being the first final for Atlanta, the stadium was full and the atmosphere was good. The game was tight. We forced them to kick long most of the time. In the middle, they couldn’t find many balls. The goal changed everything though. We weren’t able to be as effective on offense.”

On if Portland frustrated Atlanta until the first goal came…
“We expected that they would play long at times. Besides that, we forced them to kick long most of the times. Sometimes we weren’t as precise as we wanted, but both teams couldn’t do much in the middle of the field. After the first goal, the game changed a little bit. We had a chance at the end of the first half that we couldn’t convert. In the second half, we created chances, we were in their half of the field more, but they got the second goal on a set piece.”

Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell
On the team’s performance…
“There were little things that weren’t happening tonight. We felt like we had a chance but there were too many missed chances. It was just that final touch or final pass that we needed and it might have gone a different way.”

On the crowd’s impact on the game…
“Any time you have 70,000 screaming fans for the home team it is difficult. If they came to Portland we’d have many more fans than them. They’d have 500 fans stuck up in the corner and you wouldn’t hear them. You would never hear them. It would give us an advantage.”

On the attitude during halftime…
“We knew that we needed to boost it up and get back out there. Everyone could see that when we came out, we started moving the ball quicker and being more dangerous.”

Atlanta United FC head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
On winning MLS Cup…
“We won one, so that is good. It has been a while, 2013 with Newell’s (Old Boys), won a title with (FC) Barcelona in 2014, but it has been a lot of disappointments, but this one we won. We won one, and these are always special moments, just to culminate this amazing process that we have had in Atlanta.”

On what winning MLS Cup proves…
“I do not want to compare it to other jobs that I have been at, but this club had a plan from the very beginning, from the first time we spoke in September 2016 in Rosario (Argentina), and the important thing is this club never modified anything from those plans that they had told me, and that is very important. It is what makes this club very successful, is that the club had a plan and the directors have followed that plan to a T.”

Atlanta United FC goalkeeper Brad Guzan
On what the championship means…
“It’s huge. I’ve always said you never know when you’re going to have an opportunity to be in a final. They don’t come around often. You’ve got to take advantage when you’re part of them, when you’re in the moment. You’ve got to enjoy the lead-up to it, you’ve got to enjoy the game. And, when you win, you get to enjoy the post-game celebration.”

On what went through his head when the final whistle blew…
“Just pure excitement. As I mentioned, for the reasons I mentioned earlier. For the team, the club, the organization, the players. You never know when you’re going to be in a final. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a few finals. To play in one, to raise a trophy -- it’s massive.”

Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez
On winning the MLS MVP, MLS Cup, and MLS Cup MVP…
“I am most happy with the (MLS) Cup. I think this team has had an incredible year, and I think we just have to appreciate the work of everyone this season, the players and coaching staff, because even though we had some ups and downs as a team, everyone on this team contributed something and made sacrifices. This is a win that we want to celebrate because it has been a long year and thank God also.”

On Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese being an idol…
“I want to send a message to him and say thank you to him, because he accomplished a lot over his career, and he was someone who I watched when I was younger as a player, so I have to thank him for that and for everything he did to put Venezuela at the highest level.”

Notes:

  • Portland appeared in its second MLS Cup final in four seasons (2015, 2018).
  • Saturday's match was the third final the Timbers have played in since becoming a club in 1975 (1975 Soccer Bowl, 2015 MLS Cup final).
  • The match was the 900th competitive match in the history of the club, dating back to the club's original match in 1975. 
  • Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Liam Ridgewell and Jorge Villafaña all earned starts in their second MLS Cup for the Timbers.
  • Dairon Asprilla, Lucas Melano and Alvas Powell all came off the bench to make their second appearance in an MLS Cup final.
  • Jeremy Ebobisse, Andy Polo, Sebastián Blanco, David Guzmán, Larrys Mabiala, Jeff Attinella, and Zarek Valentin all made their MLS Cup debuts in the match.  
  • Valentin finished the season with 40 matches played in all competitions, one shy of the record for most games played (41) by a Timbers player in a single season in all eras of the club.
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