The brewing war of words between Gabriel Heinze and Jim Curtin reached a new chapter on Friday, but the latest installment also came with an olive branch.
Heinze responded on Friday to the pointed remarks that Curtin delivered following the 1-1 draw between Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
Curtin had criticized the Atlanta United head coach following the second leg and the Union’s 4-1 advancement on aggregate for being a “sore loser” and “asshole” after the final whistle by not shaking hands.
On Friday, Heinze issued a sharp response to Curtin’s criticism, but followed it up with an apology for any misunderstanding that may have led to the recent exchange of comments.
“First of all, if I have something to say, I will look that person in the eyes and say it,” Heinze told reporters during a video press conference. “I do not need the press to send messages to anyone. Regarding the issue about not knowing how to lose, I know both situations perfectly well. I have won and I have lost a lot. Clearly, he does not know me.”
Heinze, who has a reputation as an intense competitor and coach, also offered an apology to the Union head coach.
“Regarding not shaking his hand, I was lucky enough to have a mother and father who taught me about respect,” said Heinze. “If he felt that way, I would like to apologize to him. I congratulate him because he has done incredibly well in advancing to the next round. I wish him and his team the very best.”
The heated exchange between the two managers began during Tuesday’s second leg at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Heinze expressed his frustration to Curtin over what the Argentine believed to be time-wasting antics from the Union, leading to another discussion after the game ended, Heinze’s decision to not shake hands, and the American’s post-game comments.
“He was a great player and is a great coach, but you can still be a sore loser and an —hole after a game,” said Curtin on Tuesday after the match. “We had a discussion about the game. He thought our players were diving and faking injuries.”
“I still think there is a right way. I think he should shake hands like a man after the game.”
Atlanta United and the Union are scheduled to play twice more this year in league games, with the next encounter coming on June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.