Consistently one of the top regular-season performers in MLS over the past several years, the New York Red Bulls find themselves with the unfamiliar sensation of a two-game losing streak as they welcome Minnesota United to Red Bull Arena on Saturday (7 pm ET | TV and streaming info).
That sparked some hard-edged sessions on the training ground this week as the Supporters’ Shield holders try to rediscover their unique mojo.
“We had two really intense days yesterday and the day before yesterday,” attacker Daniel Royer told reporters on Thursday. “The energy was good and we can't wait for the weekend to bounce back.
“They’ve got quality, and I think they showed it at the beginning of the season,” Royer said of the visiting Loons, who are on their last leg of a five-game season-opening run of road games before christening their new Allianz Field home next week. “We’ve got to be ready for the challenge.”
With opponents now adapting their own tactics, going direct in hopes of neutralizing RBNY’s famed high press, Chris Armas and his squad are eager to return to the core identity that’s traditionally made them such fearsome opponents.
“We'll be up for it,” said Armas. “We love these games. we're at home, we are focusing on ourselves, and how good can we be at being us? I've said that before but that's the key.
“We're seeing that a lot of teams are changing the way they play when they play us. It is what is is. We have to get better at being us. It’s not an excuse,” he added. “We’ve got to deal with that…. Teams are going to challenge us in different ways.”
“First of all, we've got to be ready for the battle, for an aerial duel or whatever kind of duel it is, and then especially we've got to be ready for the second balls,” explained the Austrian. “I think that's something that we were leaking in the last two games, that we didn’t pick up enough second balls. And that’s something to do with mentality, with being focused and willing to do the runs … from there, then we can play forward.”
Star playmaker Kaku admitted that there is a “sense of urgency” around the camp.
“We know we have our work cut out, but we just expect to play well and bring some happiness to our fans,” he said.