CCL Progress a “Huge Deal” to Red Bulls

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

New York Red Bulls advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage in 2017 was a “huge deal” to the team and a goal in the preseason, according to the players.

“We might have been criticized in the past for not taking this seriously,” said Luis Robles after the scoreless draw in Guatemala. “For this group it was a huge deal when we made our goals for the season to advance to the knockout stage.”

New York advanced despite physical opposition from teams — and the elements. The usual CONCACAF style saw players battered and bruised while pitches were occasionally soaked or less than optimal in Central America.

Still, the team went unbeaten in the group stage and move on to the knockout round for the first time in club history.

“A big moment for our club,” said Jesse Marsch who echoed Luis Robles’ sentiment. “I’m very proud of our guys. I think they showed a lot of character and again proved what we’ve been all about.”

The team last competed in the CCL back in 2014. That year, RBNY faced FAS and MLS opposition in the Canadian Cup Champions the Montreal Impact. The results were less than favorable as the team was eliminated with only one win in four games.

A new philosophy, a new playing style and a new coach has made all the difference for New York who have become a definite contender in the competition. Still, the team isn’t resting with the focus now solely on the MLS Cup with no further distractions this season.

“The fact is that we’ve gotten it done early in our season,” said Marsch. “We don’t have any other games in the way now. We can totally focus and regenerate and make sure that our guys are ready to push with one goal in mind.”

  • troy

    Nice result. Horrible field conditions.

    • EPL fan

      I agree Troy Boy.