United brush­ing off at­tempted mind games

At­lanta play­ers vow to re­main phys­i­cal after dive, foul com­plaints.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - SPORTS - By Doug Rober­son drober­son@ajc.com

At­lanta United brushed aside NYCFC’s at­tempts to play mind games ahead of the sec­ond leg of the East­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal, which is sched­uled for Sun-

day at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium.

At­tempt­ing his ver­sion of Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho, who lives to in­flu­ence games through the me­dia, NYCFC man­ager Domenec Tor­rent shared his thoughts to the me­dia in New York this week that At­lanta United may dive or use de­lay tac­tics should it have a lead. He also com­plained about how of­ten mid­fielder Maxi Mo­ralez was fouled in the first game.

At­lanta United took the first leg 1-0 at Yan­kee Sta­dium. The win­ner of Sun­day’s game, which Mark Geiger will ref­eree, will ad­vance to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

“I say to my play­ers, I want to say to Tata Martino, we will not throw the ball out be­cause we have a ref­eree,” Tor­rent was quoted as say­ing on mlssoc­cer. com. “When it’s a foul and one player is div­ing, the player from At­lanta, New York City de­cides (not to) throw the ball out­side. If not, you can waste 15 min­utes and it’s a fi­nal.”

Re­gard­ing Mo­ralez, who was fouled six times in the first leg,

Tor­rent said: “It’s not pos­si­ble to play be­cause when we try to play, es­pe­cially Maxi, it’s foul and foul and foul and foul. Ev­ery sin­gle ball is foul after that. But we have a ref­eree. It’s the same when they waste the time be­cause that can hap­pen in At­lanta.”

What Tor­rent may not re­al­ize is that Martino has crit­i­cized op­po­nents that use de­lay tac­tics against his team at Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium. Though he did say he would con­sider us­ing those tac­tics, he has also said he prefers that his team just play if it has a lead.

Martino’s re­sponse to Tor­rent on Fri­day took the sting out of the ac­cu­sa­tions.

“I don’t have much to say about that,” he said. “I don’t think we de­layed the game in any ex­ag­ger­ated fash­ion in the first leg. It’s a state­ment that he’s made that I agree with in gen­eral.”

At­lanta United cap­tain Michael Parkhurst and goal­keeper Brad Guzan said At­lanta United isn’t go­ing to shy away from play­ing as phys­i­cally as it did in the first leg.

They also didn’t di­rectly men­tion, but did ref­er­ence, that NYCFC play­ers Alexan­der Ring, David Villa and Ron­ald Matar­rita com­mit­ted plays that could have re­sulted in yel­low or red cards in other games.

“It’s a phys­i­cal game,” Parkhurst said. “There were fouls on both sides. There are guys do­ing stuff off the ball. Ev­ery­thing gets seen, but not ev­ery­thing gets pun­ished. You are ex­pect­ing it to be phys­i­cal. We are go­ing to make sure that we look after our own guys. What­ever it takes we are go­ing to do it to­gether.”

Guzan said he thinks Tor­rent’s com­plaints are born of frus­tra­tion from los­ing at home for only the sec­ond time this sea­son.

“I don’t think any­one’s stated that we are a team that dives,” he said. “To see those com­ments, he’s en­ti­tled to his opin­ion. We are not a team that goes out try­ing to look for fouls. We are a fast-paced team that looks to get after the back line of the op­po­si­tion. We aren’t look­ing for div­ing and fouls and that sort of thing.”

GETTY IMAGES 2016

NYCFC man­ager Domenec Tor­rent told the New York me­dia that At­lanta United may dive or use de­lay tac­tics should it have a lead Sun­day.

CUR­TIS COMP­TON/CCOMP­TON@AJC.COM

United man­ager Ger­ardo Martino (cen­ter) said he does not think his team “de­layed the game in any ex­ag­ger­ated fash­ion in the first leg.”

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