HANOVER, N.J. – Before he left for RB Leipzig this past summer, former New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said that he believed this was the best team he had coached since taking over in 2015, a team that he believed had the goods to make a run at MLS Cup.
And in the eyes of the team’s brightest young star, this Red Bulls team has that certain moxie to go after the league’s biggest trophy.
MLS Cup has evaded the Red Bulls since they began play as the MetroStars during the nascent year of MLS in 1996, with only one trip to the championship match in the club’s history. Tyler Adams thinks that this group can make it happen, that this Red Bulls team can defy the weight of history and bring elusive silverware to Red Bull Arena.
Linked by reports to a move to Europe, possibly as soon as the winter, Adams has been a vital part of this year’s successful Red Bulls team. An MLS All-Star, Adams has also entrenched himself in recent months with the US men's national team.
He looks at this team, its depth and experience and feels that this could be the time an MLS Cup is captured to go alongside the two Supporters' Shields lifted in recent years.
“I think there is pressure every year, you want to win MLS Cup if you’re a team that you know, develops into a team that has an opportunity to win one and the games go up to that – a lot of pressure comes,” Adams said following training on Thursday.
“I think that we have to find a way to deal with that. Obviously not having an MLS Cup here quite yet puts pressure on us to bring one to the city. I think the club deserves one, obviously we’ve tried to get a team that deserves to go all the way. We just haven’t had that the past years. I think this year is definitely a team that is young, hungry. Just really a refreshing vibe to the team that we the players and the collective group attitude to go out there and win one.”
Earlier this year, Adams was a key part of the Red Bulls' run to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League. That run, including a big win at Tijuana in the quarterfinals, helped give this young Red Bulls team confidence for the season ahead.
Saturday’s opponent at Red Bull Arena (5 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & Streaming Info), Toronto FC, advanced to the tournament’s final. But since then, they’ve faced a downward trajectory and could be eliminated from playoff contention in the coming weeks.
Where Toronto’s Champions League run ended in not just misery but seemed to carry over into their MLS regular season, the Red Bulls instead were lifted by the results and took confidence into the season.
There is a feeling that the Shield triumphs, the CCL run and an appearance in the U.S. Open Cup final last year means the Red Bulls are building to something truly special in their quest for MLS Cup.
“I think you look at the U.S. Open Cup…last year now. Win all those games to make it to the final, we just haven’t been able to get over that last hurdle now. I think in big games, we’ve definitely been able to grow lately,” Adams said.
“The past couple of games obviously haven’t shown that but we’re a team that thinks, collectively that we’re a team that wins when you need to. And I think that is the most important thing come playoff time.”