ORLANDO, Fla. – Atlanta United were well represented during Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, and the fans at Exploria Stadium didn’t waste much time heckling their rivals to the north.
For players such as Josef Martinez and Brad Guzan, especially, they poked fun at the occurrence and are looking forward to returning pretty soon. The reigning MLS Cup champions visit this coming Tuesday for a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match.
“I didn’t hear them,” Guzan said jokingly. “You laugh and smile about it. We’ll be back here in a couple of days. We’ll be here Tuesday night, so it’s to be expected. Josef and I were having a bit of a chuckle about it.”
Martinez, who has six goals and one assist in five career matches against Orlando City, wittingly said he enjoyed the reception from The Wall.
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“Very affectionate welcoming,” Martinez said with a smile. “They always remember us with great affection and I as well. Of all the games we’ve played, I remember them.”
When the Venezuelan forward was asked about returning to Orlando in less than a week, he shifted the focus to Saturday’s league game against the LA Galaxy (5 pm ET | FOX, ESPN+ on DAZN in Canada). But the striker also acknowledged the importance of the rivalry.
“The first thing I think about it the match against the Galaxy, which is an important game for us,” he said. “Then we’ll see what happens with Orlando. Obviously, with both our fanbases it’s a derby, but honestly I don’t know why because I have love for them.”
Atlanta’s representation at Wednesday’s All-Star game also featured the likes of Ezequiel Barco, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Pity Martínez. All featured in the 3-0 loss to La Liga side Atletico Madrid.
For Martinez, it was great to see The Five Stripes have five players in this year’s MLS All-Star team.
“I’m really proud of my team and city,” said Martínez. “It just means that we’re doing things good and the love we have for the club is big, so whenever we’re out in the streets, the people always receive us with love.”