New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch
Jesse, maybe not the best all around team performance, but what does it say about your guys to be able to just grind out and get a goal at home and keep the unbeaten streak going?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I agree with the fact that we had a lot of good performances tonight, and I thought it was pretty clean and pretty professional. And New England playing their third game in a week, or third game in nine days or whatever, they put a lot into it in the second half. They were quite good. They were a little bit unlucky not to find a good chance or a goal.
But you did feel like, after the performance in the first half, that if we could come out and just stay focused and concentrated on the tactics and on pushing the game, that the goal was going to come, and even if the second one didn't come, that we were going to be able to close it out.
So, yeah, overall, good performance from a lot of guys.
Q. I know his name wasn't on the box score for the goal, but Alex Muyl did a lot in terms of the setup to get the ball out, get the shot. Probably his most complete performance this year in the final third?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, Alex has done so many things to establish himself with our team and to make us good. That's what we've been telling him. You do a million things in the game to make us good -- the ground you cover, the way you compete, the battles you win in your part of the field. It's amazing. It's amazing. And then we're just continuing to challenge him to slow down in certain moments.
When he's in and around the goal in the attacking third, could he just have a little bit more poise and put together more quality plays? And I thought that was a step forward for him today.
Now moving forward, that's the key. Without taking your foot off the pedal, without him taking his foot off the pedal in terms of the pure work rate he puts in, can he still find times to just put a few more attacking plays together that can lead to more chances and more goals.
Q. You guys usually create a ton of chances here every game at home. Today New England seemed to do a pretty decent job of limiting the chances. What do you think they were able to do to do that? What does it say when Bradley doesn't get many looks, but his first good one when he hits it?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I think that New England has made an emphasis within their team that they want to give up fewer goals and they want to be harder to play against on the defensive end. So I think a lot of it was their tactical awareness and then their pure effort in some of these defensive plays and their edge.
They also, by sitting Koffie a little bit deeper and then also having Caldwell and Rowe help out at different times, meant that their block of seven was really trying to close down space.
That being said, if we're a little bit sharper in the first half, without discrediting New England, I think that there were plenty of opportunities there for us to go up a goal and then maybe expand on it.
But regardless, it was a big result, an important result, and it keeps us in good shape in the table and keeps our momentum moving forward. You look at result-wise where we're at after our 1-6 start, the team's been in a good way for a while and been pushing hard, been pretty clear. I think in many ways we're as good as we've been in my year-plus here.
So I think the ability for us to keep our foot on the pedal and look forward and know that we're a good team and now find ways to keep pushing to get results every day will determine our success at the end of the year.
Q. [No microphone]
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, it's amazing to me that Brad [Wright-Phillips] doesn't get discussed more in the MVP race. Obviously, there are some sexy names out there, in terms of great players in our league and guys that are having good years, but especially, again, if you look after the first seven games, if you look at the way Brad's played for the last 20 games, I don't think there's been anyone in the league that's been better.
And then his -- yeah, you're right. I keep trying to challenge him to have the cutthroat mentality and all he needs is one chance and to make big plays, and I think he's really done a good job with that. Brad's been key. I love the fact that we have the counter up there now. It's pretty sweet. That every time he scores -- I don't know how many numbers they have back there, but they should have quite a few because it's going to keep coming.
Q. Jesse, just talk about Luis, another solid performance in net. Were you a little worried because in the first half New England really -- they didn't seem to put anything together in the first half and didn't really look busy, but then second half they just exploded.
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, well, I think the one blip on the day for us is that we had a slow start to the second half, and we knew that -- we felt strongly that second half we were going to be able to put together another good half and create chances, but we wanted to make sure we limited them, and if we go down a goal, it makes the game exponentially more difficult.
So the tough start was a little concerning, but we weathered it. They threw a lot at us at the beginning, and, again, got to give them credit, but in the end -- you know, listen, with Luis back in the goal, it's a really comforting position to be in as a coach to know that you have a reliable guy that's going to do everything he can within his power to make saves, clean sheets, be available, compete, lead. I mean, this club is incredibly lucky to have a guy like Luis Robles.
Q. He beat me to the punch with Bradley and the MVP, but what do you think he needs to do to enter the conversation a little bit more on a league-wide perspective?
JESSE MARSCH: Just keep doing what he's doing. You can't ignore the fact he scores goals, he works his butt off, he's one of the best players in every game he plays in. There's no forward in the league that I think puts together as many complete performances as Brad does.
And then to be able to have the energy to score goals and be lethal around the goal and be dangerous in the way he moves, it's unique, right? It's real special. He's a special player.
So I would hope that -- you know, the one thing I'll say is I know when teams play against us, they have a lot of respect for Brad. I know they game plan for him. I know they try to limit him. I know they try to be physical on him because that's one thing they think they can gain an edge with. But Brad's ability to not get frustrated, to stay focused on the game, to wait for opportunities, to meet at the tactics of what we want him to do, it's all really impressive.
Again, another guy that -- I think that more and more people are going to start to be talking about him in the MVP race.
Q. Coach, you mentioned before the unbeaten streak now at nine. Does it feel like you guys are riding on momentum at this point? Does it feel like it's kind of pushing it a little?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, it's been like this for a while now. It's been a few months where the team's felt like we're in a good way.
But we know that. We've got that kind of in the back pocket of our mentality, but the key is to not be satisfied. Right now I think the group is realistic in the sense that they know, in order to get to some goals that we've all tried to set for ourselves in a big way, that we can't ever be satisfied, that nothing's good enough. We appreciate each other. We appreciate the group we have. I think we all feel strongly about so many things about being at this club and being on this team and playing for this team.
I keep saying that, in order to honor what a great club this is, we have to push every day to do everything we can to now raise the -- to have the ultimate goals.
Q. Jesse, it was only a couple months ago that Alex made his debut for you guys, and now he's such a large role with this team. Did you expect him to be such a key player this late in the season? And are you surprised by his professionalism being where it is?
JESSE MARSCH: I watched him a lot in college. So Georgetown played Akron this past week, so the college season's back at it again. We've got a bunch of Homegrown Players out there. So we're trying to keep tabs on all of them. And I knew last year that watching Georgetown was going to be really important for evaluating where our Homegrown Players at that school are at.
When I watched Alex last year, I was incredibly impressed with just about everything from his mentality to his reactions to his quality to his ability to score goals to his competitiveness. So I was really hopeful that, when we got him here, that he would be a perfect fit.
He had a slow start because right before preseason he got hurt, so he didn't really get himself going much. But over time, where it was with the USL team or with our first group, you could see that he was getting better and better and that everybody understood that this was a young guy who, when he was on your team, he was going to do everything he could to help your team win on the day, whether that's in training or USL games or MLS games.
So the fact that he's contributed so much from a minutes perspective has been a little bit of a surprise. I think that he's ahead of where we thought he was, but you could see he had something in him. He had something that made him different and something that frankly fit the way we do things really well. So excited about his future here.
Q. Over the last year, there's been a lot of rotating cast of characters throughout the back line through injuries and call-ups and what have you. Since bringing in Aurelien and getting Ronald healthy, how important is it to have those two really solidify, and what can you say about that pairing?
JESSE MARSCH: I think those two have been a good pairing, and they enjoy playing with each other. It's fair enough to talk about those guys, but I think Damien is going to continue -- he should be back this week, and I think Perrinelle, Damien Perrinelle is going to continue to help us.
I think their clarity of how they want to play on their tactics, their movement on the back line, I think we -- in this last stretch since the nine games and 11 games overall, the back line has been very organized. We've worked on it a lot. We've looked at video a lot. We've challenged them to be on the same page and communicate in the right ways and understand how to play with each other.
Now that we have Kemar back, and even though we lost Connor, which is a big loss, Chris Duvall had his best performance of the year. That's promising for him at right back for the future. So you start to feel that back line is coming together in the right way.
New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips
On Alex Muyl’s role in his goal:
Yeah, it kind of sums up Muyl. You know, he’s full of endeavor. He never gives up on a play. I think he should have made the pass to me – I’ll have to see again. I think he should have passed it earlier. It is what it is, you know? Everything happens for a reason. I just try and get it on target.
On the team’s unbeaten streak:
Yeah, at home, for sure. It seems very difficult to play us at home. We’re getting our wins. And you know, we have to, because on the road we’ve been letting some points drop. But, you know, draws away from home and wins at home tend to be a good season.
On the difference between the first half and the second half:
No, I think the first half was a little – I thought I was finding the ball a bit more in the first half. Second half, I didn’t really do much. It came off a play from Alex [Muyl], and I was just there to reap the rewards. But, you know, every team I play against the defense is quite tough on me and today was no different.
On his confidence:
You guys have seen me for three years now, and that’s how I am. I say it week in, week out, you know, it’s all fun and games when you’re scoring goals but there will be a time when I’m not and I just have to try and keep doing the same things: hit the target and, you know, see what happens at the end of the game.
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles
On finding a way to get the win:
“I mean, today is not going to go in the books as the prettiest game of soccer, but nonetheless our task was to get three points and a shutout was the icing on the top. You know, everyone else around us is winning so it was important to go up against a conference opponent who was down and not only to keep them down but to stay up with the other guys.
On Bradley Wright-Phillips’ season:
I mean I guess I’ll agree, what Brad does for us is unbelievable. It’s not only just the goals. The goals are great and he’ll always be remembered for that but when I think of his contribution to the game it’s setting our line, it’s the effort that resonates all the way back, he’s got an attitude that permeates through the team that those are the type of things and the intangibles that make him so great. Not only is he a great teammate and a great guy but he’s also a great goal scorer for us the past couple years and we know that when it becomes crunch time that he’s Mr. Reliable.
On the play at the end of the game:
Yeah, I wasn’t happy about how it went down. I try to control my emotions for the most part.
New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps
Q. Seemed like a pretty bright start to the second half, so how tough was it to see them getting that goal after you came out sharp in the second half?
JAY HEAPS: Yeah, it was a tough goal to give up because it felt like -- New York's a really great team. So when you break it down, you can understand it, but when we play into their hands -- part of our game plan was not to do that. A couple situations that put them in a position of power with balls that were, you know, probably too tight with passes, and we got stuck fighting for it and chances to get rid of it.
But in the end, you know, I felt like we had a good performance overall, but to give up that goal was hard.
Q. Four matches now without a goal. Is there some frustration on what's kind of lacking right now in the final third?
JAY HEAPS: The goals -- I think that there were chances created. There were breaks to be had. I think it's frustrating for everybody because, you know, I think that we pride ourselves on being a team that can finish, and the last four games have just not been good enough in the final third.
Q. Can you talk about the offense tactical changes that you made seemed like it should work. Why aren't they quite clicking?
JAY HEAPS: Well, it's continue to work at it. I think we're trying to -- it's a little bit different look, and players are in a little bit different positions. I think we had six offsides on crossed balls. I feel like we need to be in better positions, better runs, tandem runs where it's two strikers if we're going to play the system, two strikers get on the same page and make runs that are different but in tandem, that are different, give different looks to the defense.
I felt like tonight a couple chances where we probably had better chances on the break in the first half. Even though we were better in the second half, I felt like overall possession-wise and chance-wise, but the first half we had good chances on the break and on different things, and we've got to put our chances away. We're getting them, but we just have to put them away.
One pass has got to be the right pass. Right now we're not finding the one pass that's the right pass.
Q. [No microphone]?
JAY HEAPS: Of course, I'm proud of our guys for the effort and everything they did. I think that's what's so gutting is that they didn't break us down. That's kind of my point. They're a really good team, and they break a lot of teams down, and I felt like they were really sharp, and they got through a couple times in the first half, but in areas where we made a play or two, that's why I think this one hurts because it was in a situation where we were broken down.
But credit New York because they're a really good team, and I don't ever like sitting up here and saying that they didn't deserve it. They're a really good team.
Q. Just talk about Knighton. Obviously, he's been a big keeper for you in goal. And outside of the goal, he played very well. There were some good positions and strong something. How solid have you felt about Knighton's play in goal?
JAY HEAPS: Good. Obviously, we're in a -- you don't like to be here where you've got -- I felt like we've gone to find the right thing, but we've given up a lot of goals. To really everyone's blame, not one, but sometimes -- a couple weeks ago, we took Bobby out. There was really nothing he did to get taken out other than being on the wrong side of a four-goal game. Could have been -- we made two changes across the back line. He was the third change.
So you make changes to make changes sometimes, but then guys step up, and I thought Brad has done that and really elevated his level. And now that's what we're hoping continues to happen. And quite frankly, that Bobby elevates his level and that we get that sorted and continue to -- two games on the road, giving up one goal was much better than we've been. So there's a silver lining in some of it. But now we've got to offensively -- offensively, we've got to get it right because we're running out of time.
Q. I know Je-Vaughn is at the center and Andrew out right -- left, not right. Just your thoughts on that as something that could probably work in the future?
JAY HEAPS: I thought Je-Vaughn was awesome the other night when we were out in San Jose. We had to be cautious of making a couple changes, but we wanted to keep the foundation of what we did Wednesday night. I thought Je-Vaughn -- again, he's a warrior. He goes out there and leaves it all on the field. He's a gamer. And I liked the way he played.
Yeah, I think Andrew for me, strengths, right back, putting good service in. Je-Vaughn's man versus man, and he made some good plays. So we like that matchup so far.
Q. On their goal, did you think that was a ball that should have been cleared before the shot? What's your vantage point about what happened?
JAY HEAPS: I have to look at it on film, but vantage point quick was I felt like we had a couple of chances to clear it even on the pass before that. I'll go back and look at it, but live action, I felt like if we can get it out of the stadium on a couple of chances, we should do it.
Q. [No microphone.]
JAY HEAPS: I'm confident. I think that -- you know, I see what we can do, and we just have to make sure it translates to the field. We've had a run of some serious not very good games, and we need to turn it around because the time's running out. The one thing about this league is that you feel like, if you get one, you can get two, and you can get three in terms of games in a row and just keep plugging away. Right now that's what we have to do.
New England Revolution forward Kei Kamara
On the scoring chances:
Yeah, we got in front of goal. Not as much as we would like or not as many clear chances as you would like. Um, obviously we didn’t get a goal so we didn’t do well in front of goal.
On the six hour (four game) stretch without a goal:
To be honest, I didn’t actually know it was that long but I mean just focus, just continue to play, continue to really, you know combine and have faith with each other going forward. Really that’s what it is. You know it’s the responsibility of everyone, not just you know one guy scoring a goal. It’s a team that many guys can score goals. I mean from the Open Cup or games after that, a guy like you know, Watson scoring for us. So it’s really just believing in the next guy and give him a chance to score goals.
On the formation change of now having two forwards:
Well it’s a good formation you know, it frees us up as a forward. A little, but at the same time it’s kind of new. It’s really new. You know, how many games are left in the season, it’s something we have to work on really fast to adapt to because you know defensively it can hurt us if we’re you know not playing the right way. So it’s a good formation but definitely a formation that you know like I said earlier, it’s about having confidence in each other in those positions because now some players you know are playing in a different position. It’s good I mean, for example today Zubar and Collin, if it was just one striker up there it would have been easier for them to have handled them. The fact that there’s two, so both of them had their hands full and so that’s good. And that’s kind of how you want to do it, but we got to get more balls in the box and get more crosses in the box and that way we can keep up the pressure and some of these defenders.
New England Revolution Goalkeeper Brad Knighton
On the Red Bulls’ goal:
Yeah, you know, it’s difficult. I felt like we started the second half very well and we created a number of chances and, you know, unfortunately we gave up another goal. But you can’t fault the effort. The effort was absolutely fantastic, it was spot on, [inaudible] and unfortunately we came up short.
It tussle around in the middle of the box and I was just trying to react and make the save, and the rebound falls to Bradley Wright[-Phillips] wide open inside the box, and you know a striker like that he’s going to finish that 90% of the time and he finished it.
On their mentality returning home:
Yeah, you know, to get back tonight, recharge the batteries, and obviously a massive game at home like you said. For us, we need to pick up three points every game from here on out for the rest of the season, and it’s going to be a great test for us but we’ll be ready to go for our home fans.
On the Revolution’s winless streak at Red Bull Arena:
You know, it’s a difficult place to play. I think a lot of teams find it difficult to come here. But the team performance tonight I thought was spectacular. Everyone rallied, everyone bought into the belief that we were going to come here and get three points, and the effort was there it was just that we were unfortunate to give up a goal.