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Red Bulls coach Chris Armas on postmatch exchange with Atlanta’s Tata Martino: ‘Just a misunderstanding’

HANOVER, N.J. — New York Red Bulls coach Chris Armas called his postmatch exchange with Atlanta United coach Tata Martino, who refused to shake his hand following the Red Bulls’ 2-0 win Sunday at Red Bull Arena, “a misunderstanding.”

Martino said after the match he went to intercept star midfielder Miguel Almiron from confronting Armas, who was making his way to the Atlanta technical area to shake hands with the coaching staff.

“I went to separate him from Miguel because I think they were arguing, and I went to take Miguel out of it,” Martino said through a translator. “I don’t know what they were arguing about, but I saw that they were starting to talk and I went to take Miguel out of it.

“I like coaches with a low profile,” he added.

Armas assumes Almiron, and perhaps Martino, thought his gestures to pump up the crowd in the dying seconds were meant to disrespect or show up Atlanta.

But Armas said that’s not in his persona and never has been.

“I can say one thing: I think for people who know me, I never disrespect the game,” Armas said after training Wednesday. “I ask the players I coach to never cheat the game, disrespect the game. Don’t talk back to referees. Don’t dive if you don’t get fouled. You get hit [in the chest], don’t hold your face. Just respect the game. That’s how I am as a coach, and that’s how I was as a player.”

Armas said he asked his staff how much time remained and when he was told 30 seconds, he went into celebration mode.

“I turned around and congratulated every single player on the bench and every staff member, and in that I just waved on the crowd,” he said. “I didn’t even celebrate the second goal. It’s not who I am, and never would I try to show up the opponent, ever.”

Armas said MLS is “so lucky” to have Atlanta as a team, and Almiron personally, in the league and he’s hoping to meet Atlanta again — and perhaps try out that handshake again.

“I think it was just misunderstood, because if they think I was trying to get them going and to show them up, then I understand it, but I think it was just a misunderstanding,” Armas said. “We respect them with everything, and hopefully we can see them again and go at it again.”

Understandably, the brief exchange between Armas and Martino went viral, with numerous memes on Twitter created.

“I’ve seen the memes. It’s pretty funny to me, but I hope there’s no bad blood,” Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis said. “Chris hasn’t spoken about it at all. I don’t know the backstory or what happened, but it’s a nice meme for us, it favors us a bit so I can joke about it.”

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