After a scuffling start to their season, the New York Red Bulls appear to be back, and they’ve been taking notes on their doubters.
“It's amazing for me, honestly,” said Armas in his media availability at the Red Bulls’ training facility, reminding those present that his team won the 2018 Supporters' Shield, setting a new MLS points record in the process. “When we start the year and things don’t go our way early on, it’s 'Who are the Red Bulls? What’s wrong? Weird weeks,' it’s just negative about the New York Red Bulls. And on the inside, we’ve kept strong.
“This foundation that we’ve talked about, of being strong to sustain through tough times, it started years ago. It starts in the playoff run last year, in tough moments when we get injuries, in tough moments when there’s lots going on. But it just seems, to be honest with you, that people don’t talk about the good things that the New York Red Bulls do, and only attack in tougher times.”
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After a 1-4-2 start to their league campaign, RBNY have won four of their last five matches and with Sunday’s win, achieved despite playing more than half the game with 10 men, have climbed above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference and reached the .500 mark.
“When I see our team every day stick together out here, and then stick together and chip away and see the belief grow, I see [Sunday] as a result. That wasn’t a starting point, that was a result of a real team staying strong,” said Armas, before sending another barb in the direction of ATLUTD, who have become bitter adversaries for the Red Bulls, as he praised RBNY’s club-wide approach to grooming young talent in house.
“In tough times we don’t make excuses, like some teams do, with injuries and losing players. We heard about [Miguel] Almiron being missing, I have not mentioned once Tyler Adams missing. So we don’t talk about that. So yes, the guys that have stepped up, the guys that we’re watching every day – when [coaches] are watching [Red Bulls II] USL games, communicating, going to watch games in their free time, we’re there not because we have nothing else left to do with our day and time. And on train rides when we’re cutting film for the Tom Barlows. It’s a process.”
The Red Bulls’ next task: Handle Wednesday’s potentially tricky visit from the Vancouver Whitecaps (8 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info) before traveling to FC Cincinnati on short rest this weekend. RBNY may have to turn to their vaunted depth yet again.
“When you look at the MLS season now, it’s much different than in years past – you see midweek games almost every week in this league, and so that makes playing much more difficult, especially with our style,” said midfielder Sean Davis. “We have a young core that’s very hungry and they work hard with the USL team, they work hard with the first team in training, and so they want to prove that they belong, and they’ve done that. Of course it helps the first-team guys that are putting in a lot of minutes, because we have a lot of midweek games, and it’s not easy to turn it around, especially with the way that we play and the numbers that we put up in terms of running.”
Davis & Co. are wary of a rapidly-improving Vancouver side ably led by Marc Dos Santos, in whom Armas sees the coaching DNA of Bob Bradley, whom Armas played for with the Chicago Fire in that club’s heyday.
“They’re an organized team, defensively they have good ideas of how to get behind the ball and take away spaces. Marc Dos Santos does a really nice job,” said Armas of the ‘Caps. “We know that they’re going to be tough to break down.
“They control games with possession, they’re a very honest team, they work both ways, with and without the ball,” he added. “The starting point is possession, but it’s not just move the ball around. there’s clear ideas there and there’s some sophistication all the way through. We see that. Whoever deserves to play, plays. There’s a real honesty to what they’re doing.”