Kljestan: Message to Team Same as Last Year

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Sacha Kljestan was proud of his team after they came back to defeat Atlanta United in their opening game of the 2017 season. Speaking to the media after the game, he went into detail about his message to the team after their lackluster first half.

“It seems to be the same message we’ve had for about the last year,” Kljestan said. “We came out and we didn’t make any plays in the first half. We’ve got to come out in the second half and have courage to play, go after them more, be a little more physical and someone has to step up and make a few plays.”

And those plays were made as Kljestan fed Daniel Royer a cross in the 77th minute for the equalizer. Then Kemar Lawrence and Bradley Wright-Phillips forced an own-goal for the game-winner. For a majority of the game New York under-performed but still won the game.

“As the game wore on, things were getting desperate but nobody looked nervous and nobody looked like they were going to lose the game,” Kljestan said. “I feel like we looked around at each other and everybody had a feeling that we would make something happen. At least get a tie. Guys that came on the field as subs made a huge difference and a couple guys made a few special plays and it was a pretty amazing atmosphere against a pretty good team.”

The team’s first win in 2017 was Kljestan’s first as an MLS captain. Next up is Colorado, a Rapids team that was difficult to score against in 2017 (32 goals against, best in MLS). That said, the Red Bulls have been one of the highest-scoring home teams since the opening of Red Bull Arena.