Red Bull newcomers Armando, Eckersley look to build on improved defensive performance

IMAGE, ROB TRINGALI, NEW YORK RED BULLS

You are only as good as your last game.

It is an adage that follows sports stars across many different platforms — and soccer is no different. Just take a look at the New York Red Bulls. Entering the year as defending Supporters’ Shield champs, a season opening collapse on the road quickly served as a reminder that this was indeed a new campaign. The defense, in particular, took the brunt of the blame for the result.

While a 1-1 draw against Colorado at home seemed equally deflating, one silver lining was the improved performance of the defense. That bodes well for newcomers Armando and Richard Eckersley, who are looking to add upon their personal gains against the Chicago Fire this week.

“It takes a bit of time when you are moving teams,” Eckersley tells EOS.  “Obviously, you are getting used to how people play — when they are going to the ball, when they are coming away from the ball.  The first thirty minutes [against the Rapids], we were clicking all over the pitch.  It was a shame we couldn’t capitalize on that.  It was disappointing that we drew, but we can build [on that].”

The rebound performance was a needed one for Eckersley. Most turned the finger of blame in his direction after New York’s 4-1 loss in Vancouver. His defensive partner, Armando, also saw his fair share of criticism in the opening performance. Nevertheless, he rebounded nicely against the Rapids — even if the result was a bit deflating.

“In these situations, you have to be critical of yourself and try to [improve],” Armando explains. “Help in any way you can to move forward.”

When asked about the improved defensive approach against Colorado, the Spanish defender looked beyond his line mates. “When you are talking about defense, you are talking about everyone from the forwards on back,” he explains. “For me, it’s not just the back four and the keeper. It’s everybody’s responsibility.

“What I felt is we let two points escape us,” he lamented. “I don’t like to talk about the refs, but initially, I feel they were wrong, but you can’t look back. You have to keep working so you can achieve three points in your next encounter.”

Coming from a dysfunctional system with Toronto FC, the early failings of the Red Bulls seem perplexing to Eckersley. “It was disappointing,” he said. “If you look at the team sheet, we should be winning every game. We have fantastic players in the team. I am sure it will come and that’s what people have confidence in.

“You aren’t always going to be on the top,” he concedes. “Sometimes you got to take a little bit of a back seat, keep tight and defend as a unit. I thought we did that. We were unlucky in the end not to grab a goal.”

Nevertheless, the Red Bull newcomers agree on one thing; time will heel their current wounds.

“It’s the continuity,” Eckersley concludes. “It takes a little time initially, but once you come together, it works.”