Robles: Red Bulls “need to get our act together”

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

The New York Red Bulls haven’t won a match nor scored a single goal in their opening two encounters of the season. That is a surprise — especially considering how many have penciled in the reigning Supporters’ Shield champions as MLS Cup contenders this season.

The team has looked anything but a Cup contender. Instead, the Red Bulls have looked disjointed and uninspired. Yes, they have been well scouted by their opposition to date — so much so that the once-dominating, choking gegenpress system that has defined success for Jesse Marsch’s side is beginning to look more like an impediment than a compliment. But it isn’t just a battle of tactics. The team just isn’t responding like they did last season.

Is there reason for panic? It is too early to say. However, after two listless matches, team leader Luis Robles has had enough of what he has seen.

“Winning this league is difficult. It is all the more difficult when you give up chances like that,” Robles told reporters after the match. “We need to get our act together. We need to understand if we wait too long and dig ourselves in a big enough hole, it will be very difficult going into the season or the rest of the season to get out of it.”

While Robles added his belief that the team’s character is strong enough to pull it together, the Red Bulls are far from proving that sentiment on the field. The possession aspect of their game continues to be their strength (63% vs. Toronto, 51% on the road against Montreal). However, their execution on the attack and discipline on defense have cost the club points early and often.

“I don’t think anyone can say our defensive effort was good, starting from the front to the back, starting with myself,” Robles said. “You look at our second half, I don’t think anyone in this lockerroom can say they brought the necessary mentality, quality or anything to that second half.”

When pressed on the goals conceded, Robles went so far as to warn there could have been more.

Now, Robles assures that the team has the “same character” as last year, and perhaps has hit a “rough patch.” However, the reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year also understands that work needs to be done to get New York back on the right level. That means a renewed commitment in training and a better understanding of the Red Bulls high-energy game.

“When we go into training this week, it will be about concentrating on the task at hand, being able to understand how we want to play and being committed to it.

“There is a certain standard expected here, and that standard is pretty high,” he said. “I’m confident if we can get in the classroom, get on the field, correct some things we are doing, eventually we will be on the right path.”