Less than a year ago, the New York Red Bulls were lifting a trophy — a Shield, to be exact.
Fans at Red Bull Arena were heard chanting for head coach Chris Armas to lose his job on Saturday, and the manager didn't mince words in understanding the discontent of late, while also admitting it chafed him.
"Listen, they are not happy. They shouldn't be. Who do they take it out on? They are not going to take it out on each other. They love the players. They blame the person in charge. It's fair," he told reporters after the game.
"Is that the best thing for the players and the coaches to hear? That doesn't help, right, but they are frustrated and that comes with it. You know, they support us. They come and they are entitled to be frustrated and voice that opinion. Won't change the way we're working."
Armas also explained he doesn't pay much attention to outside perspectives.
"I didn't even hear [the jeers]," he said. "I was told in the hallway walking through. My kids read stuff and they tell me different things along the way. I don't get caught up in what people think. I was starting for the US national team and people were saying, ‘Why is Chris Armas starting for the US national team?’ You can't let that affect you. I think the big thing is that I understand it. It's part of it. They paid money to come see us play. I'd be pissed off, too, if I watched that performance tonight."
The match was the first in charge for Armas' counterpart, Robin Fraser, as a brace from Jonathan Lewis put the new Rapids regime off to the right start.
Expected to be a contender yet again this season, New York are in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, four points above the first team below the playoff line, but their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs spot isn't assured and they haven't won consecutive games in league play since June 1.
Even with the struggles, Armas is upbeat that the 2019 season is not a lost cause for the Red Bulls, and he's optimistic he'll get the fans on his side again.
"We'll take a hard look at what I'm doing, to put out a team tonight that I thought we didn't have the urgency, the execution, the desire to win that game. It's on me. And yeah, I'm going to get it right, but there's five games left in the year. The most important ones are ahead. We'll find out who we are," he said.