Red Bulls reflect on the past, with eyes on the future

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

HARRISON, N.J. – On a night where the Red Bulls all but clinched their Eastern Conference title and looked forward to the playoffs, most of the New York players and staff were taking a moment to reflect on the journey.

It wasn’t that long ago that New York started the season at a woeful 1-6. Since then, they have amassed an impressive 14-3-9 record, going undefeated in all competitions since the start of July.

“I think I said a lot publicly that I wasn’t very concerned at [1-6], but I just started to wonder at what point, 1-whatever, was going to start to hurt us at the end of the year,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Looks like 1-6 was about the threshold”

Following the 1-6 start, Marsch reveals that he called a leadership council meeting to address the schnied. “I think after the loss to D.C., the 2-0 loss in D.C., that was another moment where we had to look carefully and challenge each other to do more,” Marsch said. “And I feel like that was probably the biggest point in the season where we kind of had a break and said, all right, it’s now or never.

“So I think — and it’s never been about our guys’ commitment or their belief. It’s just about little reminders to encourage the kind of behavior from a mentality perspective and a soccer perspective to make sure that each guy is very clear with what makes him good and how to make him good within our group. The more we do that and the clearer we are with that, then I think the more I think that you see it come together.”

For all intents and purposes, New York’s impressive run now has them winning the Eastern Conference crown, securing a place in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League tournament. But the team continues to look forward, awaiting their opponent in the playoffs.

And if this season is any indication, the Red Bulls will be ready for whomever they will face.

“In some ways, I think [the 1-6 start] was the best thing that happened to us,” he said. “It knocked any complacency out. It put us on our toes. It made us look carefully at things. It made us push hard every day and I think that’s what’s gotten us here.”

 

 


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