The final whistle on Tuesday night didn't signal the stop of the action, far from it. It may have set up the most interesting portion of the night.
The Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United drew 1-1 in leg two of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal, with the Union breezing past Atlanta 4-1 on aggregate after two legs. The Union advancing seemed a foregone conclusion after Philly's huge 3-0 win in Atlanta last week. Tensions were high on the field, though, and that continued between the two managers.
Union boss Jim Curtin and Atlanta's Gabriel Heinze were seen sharing words on the touchline after the match, with the Atlanta man looking none too pleased. After the game, Curtin shed some light (and an expletive) on that discussion and an attempted handshake.
“He’s an incredible coach. He’s an incredible player, but you can still be also a sore loser and be an a------ at the end of the game,” Curtin said on a virtual postgame press conference. “I still think there’s a right way. I think you should shake hands like men after the game. He’ll probably have something to say now that I’ve said that. But again, I’m not going to just sit here and take it anymore.”
Earlier in the game, the broadcast caught the pair talking around the 72nd minute.
Union captain Ale Bedoya, for his part, joked he thought the coaches were just discussing where to get a late-night cheesesteak. Curtin said Heinze's contention was to suggest the Union deployed time wasting tactics across the two legs.
“I went to shake his hand after the game in Atlanta, and it was a little touchy,” Curtin said. “And then I went again [Tuesday], and I shook his hand, and he was kind of dismissive a little bit. I said ‘you weren’t going to shake my hand again,’ and then we had just had a discussion about the game. He thought our players were diving and faking injuries. I get that, but I don’t think that’s what we’re about. I think we’re about doing our talking on the field.”
Heinze, in his first season as Atlanta head coach, is still working through some growing pains. After an impressive two-legged victory over Alajuelense, Atlanta have now failed to win four of their last five matches, including the 3-0 rout at the hands of the Union, effectively eliminating them from the CCL.
“I couldn’t talk to you enough about how I feel about this group now," Heinze said through a translator. "For many reasons. I’m not only talking about the football aspect. What I told them after the match, I prefer to keep it private.”
Mark your calendars: Philadelphia and Atlanta next play each other on June 20.