Red Bulls close out 2015 with an eye towards the future

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

HARRISON, N.J. – When striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was asked about the club’s bright future following the Red Bulls elimination from the MLS Cup Playoffs , he gave a curt answer.

“I guess in two week’s time, I’ll feel like that,” he began. “But right now, I’m not really thinking like that. I’m devastated to have lost that game.”

Such was the tone throughout the Red Bulls lockerroom after their 1-0 victory against Columbus, unable to overcome the 2-0 aggregate hole they dug themselves in Ohio.

That sentiment continued to linger amongst many Red Bull players and staff the following morning.

Head coach Jesse Marsch understands that and summed up the emotions succinctly.

“One of the first conversations I had with them was about emptying the tank at the highest level, and I couldn’t have asked for more from this group of guys and I know how bad they wanted it,” he said. “It hurts – that locker room is in pain right now, just because it means so much to them.”

With their next game not until March, the coaching staff and front office is attempting to focus once again on the future of the club. With the ever changing nature of a typical MLS club, along with the restrictions of a salary cap that can sometimes be unforgiving, Marsch once again turned to the big picture.

“The reality is that we are in the first year of our process,” he began. “We’re very hopeful to keep this group together as much as possible and continue the process for next year. We want everything that we went through this year to make us stronger for next year.”

With the majority of this year’s roster returning, New York looks ready to once again build on the “continuity” within the roster that began forming after the ouster of former boss, Hans Backe. This includes team captain Dax McCarty, who has become such an integral part of Marsch’s high press system, and the coach himself signed on for one more season

This is atypical for an organization that seems to be a scion for turnover in the past.

While Marsch acknowledged that the club will continue to develop talent in a system that has seen Matt Miazga become a US National Team defender, as well as accelerated the development of Sean Davis, Kemar Lawrence, Chris Duvall, and others, he also is focused on continuity.

I think there’s some really good young players within our mix,” he explained. “We’ll have more Academy players I think that we’ll try to figure out a way to include for next year and there’s probably the opportunity for maybe one or two more pieces to add, but for right now the important thing is we have certain things that are on our radar, but the emphasis is certainly to keep this group together.”

In reference to those “one or two pieces,” Sporting Director Ali Curtis said that those additions could come sooner rather than later. “We feel good about the team, we’ve got some depth in a lot of different areas so aside from the position specifics of where we’re going to add numbers, I think we feel good about the team right now and there are a couple targets that we’ll have and we’ll make a couple signings as early as the first part of January, but all in all we feel pretty good about the team,” Curtis said.

This falls in line with recent reports that Jamaican national Junior Flemming is close to joining the Red Bulls in early 2016. In addition to the current core, Marsch will likely give Red Bulls designated player Gonzalo Veron a larger stage next season. Veron finished the 2015 season with one goal and one assist over 13 appearances, although he only started in two matches.  Marsch has high expectations for the Argentine attacker in 2016.

“I know it hasn’t always been easy on him to not get the opportunities that he would like to have,” Marsch acknowledged. “I’ve talked with him about what the expectations are, how to continue to contribute every day, how to continue to adapt, but I think he’s done all that well and next year we’ll see more from him. He’ll be more of a major contributor.”

Curtis echoed that sentiment. “Gonzalo’s been a healthy and positive contribution to the locker room, he’ll continue that, he’ll only get stronger, he’ll only get better as he learns our system, as he learns our teammates, so we’re looking forward to Gonzalo contributing in an even more meaningful way next year.”

Lloyd Sam, who at 31-years-old is one of New York’s elder statesmen, has earned plaudits of his own this season, finding himself on the receiving end of a call up to the Ghana national team in late Summer for a friendly vs Canada.  Sam, who is under contract for next season, and possibly another year at the club’s option, is already looking forward to next season.

“I think a lot of teams will be looking for revenge on us – DC, NYC. (But), Columbus – we’ll be looking for revenge on them.”

Sam also acknowledged the process, and credits his coach for executing the club’s newfound philosophy. “We’ve got a real identity on the field,” Sam continued. ” (Players) come in and they know what they’ve got to do. We’ve had good teams in past years, but this one has a real team feel. Credit to Jesse; he’s really instilled a team unity. It’s a shame it wasn’t enough (this season), but it will get better.”

Both Marsch and Curtis made it clear that New York is at the beginning of a process. With the change in focus from signing the most recognizable name to developing quality talent from within, Marsch talked about having an eye towards that ‘big picture,’ even down the stretch run of the playoffs.

“You know we’ve had, even now down the stretch in the playoffs, we’ve had at training  some days we have almost 35 players out at training and we’ve had Mason Deeds and Noah Powder and Tyler Adams and all these young players around our team that is at supposedly the most important time of year where many clubs would say we’re going to protect the first team the most, but this is all part of our process.”

Even with Roy Miller exiting the club, the Red Bulls have kept their core group for at least one more season. Time will tell how effective the system will be, but the Red Bulls continue to be an organization changed.

For now, though, they face the off season, but not without a modicum of hope for what’s to come.

  • yaki

    If he thinks he is going to carry the day with the likes of Lawrence,Sean davis,Miazga, Veron and or Duvall he is delusional. High press is not brain surgery,and although he was very good at organizing them last year, those kinds of players can only take you so far. Not to mention the rest of the league will continue to improve and perhaps his one and only strategy of play wont be as effective next year. I really think this year was a bit of an aberration,but what the hell do I know

    • Joey Bag of Donuts

      what future another rebranding and moving to Camden ? Joke of a franchise

    • Anonymous

      So tired of Curtis & Marsch declaring success. They took over a SS team that lost the East Final and didn’t improve. If they had a REAL DP, they would have beaten Columbus. Curtis is polishing his turd. Not that the players are tires, his work and verbal redirection is the turd.

    • Peter from Family guy

      Red bull was and I still think is Chivas 2.0 with steroids.
      No big name players, no good team name, no good team identity, just reminds me of Chivas USA and the only good thing they have is their stadium but remember Chivas USA was paying rent and playing at stub hub with is a nice stadium as well.
      Red bull fans are incompetent for renewing their ST and buying merchandise. Did you see the stadium almost half empty the last 20 minutes, their fans are also new into soccer, red bull just needed one goal wtf.
      Garber needs to find a buyer for red bull who will take this franchise to the next level and by the way, Chivas USA supposedly had the best academy in MLS when they were bought, so red bull fans don’t start with your best academy comments.
      Red bull needs to be sold , simple as that. Thank nycfc for your new life in MLS.

      • EnglishRBNY

        Yeah thank **** for nycfc. 9 points.

  • Zachattack490

    can you please explain why the read bulls won the game last sunday but are not moving on, there out of the playoffs? Why?

    • Anonymous

      MLS playoffs (like a “playoff” scenario in Europe) goes on aggregate score. So, Columbus scored 2 goals in the first game so therefore they were up 2-0. Although RBNY won the second game 1-0 the final aggregate score was 2-1 Columbus.

      Also to note…an away goal is considered to be more valuable than a home goal. Hope this helps.

  • Peter from Family guy

    Where are all those red bull fans who love the team name and their coach and team manager.
    Stick to one opinion and don’t say, “I’m surprised and happy with red bull and now like the the coach and front office.”
    Don’t be fake fans like you call cosmos and nycfc fans, don’t renew your ST and and don’t buy merchandise.
    Red bull fans deserve better, at least 2 big name dps, and I gotta say a new owner.

  • MM

    I love the Red Bulls. Looking forward to next year.

    • Joey Bag of Donuts

      it figures

  • Red Bulls fan

    Red Bulls had a great year and next year will be better.

    Chivas 2.0?
    Thank you NYCFC?
    Tired of Curtis and Marsch declaring success?
    What a bunch of retards! Yes retards with retarded opinions.
    Can you at least have an original complaint?
    Boring!

    Red Bulls were the best team in MLS 2 out of the last 3 years.
    Playoffs are a crap shoot and the Bulls crapped out. It happens.

    You think Philly was a better team than the Red Bulls this year? They beat the Bulls in one important game.

    Do you know anything about sports?
    Favored teams get upset sometimes.

    Looking at 20 years of frustration and false starts, rebranding etc. is one thing.

    Having the best team in MLS 2 out of 3 years that is built for the long term is another.

    You must be Arsenal fans!