And in a 3-2 win Saturday afternoon, the Red Bulls proved, for the first time in 2019, something they’ve been known for the last few years — the bigger the game, the better they play.
“Maybe for a lot of people in the league, LA is the best team in the league, in the ranking, and we just believe in ourselves and we know what we can do,” midfielder Marc Rzatkowski said. “We know our quality. We work hard and we’ll try to keep going after winning two in a row.”
If the victory over FC Cincinnati a week ago was a relief, the win over what was a red-hot LA Galaxy team was perhaps a reminder of where the Red Bulls are among the league’s elite, even if the early-season results haven’t gone as planned.
“I think also we are one of the best teams in the league,” said defender Amro Tarek, who scored his first Red Bulls goal in the first half to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. “We just have to build on this and to keep going and to actually do better than they did last season. So I think this is a challenge now.”
The Red Bulls were without Bradley Wright-Phillips (groin injury) and Kaku (suspension), but still managed to be dangerous in the attacking third. There were different heroes on the day with Tarek, Rzatkowski and Derrick Etienne each scoring their first goals of the season.
“I just want to help the team any way I can. Whether that's tracking back, defending, getting goals, getting assists, killing time, anything you can do to help the help the team get the win is the most important thing,” Etienne said. “So we always talk about starters and being the tanks, and then the guys coming off the bench, you're going to know what to do when they get on the field. And I think that was a prime example for today.”
Of course positive results also breed confidence, something Red Bulls coach Chris Armas reminded his team of during his halftime team talk with New York trailing 2-1.
“We watched our plays on our screen here and what we could do better and it was a very close game,” Rzatkowski said. “He just said that we have to believe in ourselves, that we don’t want to go out there and tie that game, but we want to win the game. That was our mentality and we did a great job in the second half to turn the game around.”