Red Bulls Are Happy, Not Thrilled

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

By BRIAN TRUSDELL

Red Bulls logoHARRISON, N.J. — Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch is happy. Ecstatic? Not so much.

Despite routing San Jose, 5-1, Wednesday night with its greatest output of goals in a game in nearly 14 months, a victory that put New York over the .500 mark (9-8-2, 29 points) for the first time since losing to Philadelphia on May 6. But Marsch refused to throw a party.

“It was good,” Marsch said. “The game was in grasp. Now, they’re dangerous on counters a couple of times so it could have been tied at some point. I think it was very good and we’re moving in the right direction, but I still think there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We’ve been in a good way. We’ve had some results pile up for us. We’ve rotated the formation a little bit and we think it gets the best out of a lot of guys, but you always have to be careful that you always continue to have your minds in the right places and you don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”

With Sean Davis, Sacha Kljestan and Felipe Martins each getting their first goals of the season, the Red Bulls led by 3-0 with only 15 minutes remaining. An 88th-minute tally by San Jose’s newly acquired designated player Valeri Kazaishvelli from the Republic ofGeorgia was answered with two tallies by Daniel Royer in the 90th and 92nd minutes.

“Yeah, I think we’re hitting our stride,” Kljestan said. “I think guys are starting to feel good, and I think the guys feel really comfortable. Jesse has said this formation has put more guys in better positions to succeed and I agree with that. I think we have better options to play out of the back and we’ve just been playing better lately.”

With four straight wins, including U.S. Open Cup competition, and five victories in the last six games, the Red Bulls have moved across the playoff red line into fifth place 2in the Eastern Conference, tied on points with Orlando, but having played one less game.

New York has even won three straight away games, but despite Wednesday night’s goal splurge – the most since it thumped cross-Hudson rival NYCFC, 7-0, in May 2016 — it has just 25 for the season, better than only Orlando and D.C. United in the conference.

One who was particularly gratified was Kljestan, who celebrated with a muted mild arm swing.

“Yeah, finally, right,” said Kljestan, who hadn’t scored since October against Philadelphia. “It was about time. I had a couple of good chances in the last few games that I didn’t put away.

“Yeah, finally one went in. I’m happy.”

Whatever shortcomings the team may have, it clearly believes the changes Marsch has implemented are working.

“The system works well,” Royer said. “The past weeks, we play quite successful. You can see that it fits, that we’re playing nice soccer. Especially today, every single person played really well. We created a lot of chances and it was very important to show us and crowd that we are still able score a lot of goals.”

Next up will be Minnesota in Minneapolis on Saturday, and Marsch is tempering expectations.

“It’s one game at a time, it’s one day at a time,” he said. “Minnesota still has not been easy to beat at home in the last couple of months. And we’ll have to go on turf. It will be a hot day and they’ll challenge us in a lot of different ways.”

Marsch apparently isn’t comfortable with the concept of “enjoy the moment.”