EAST HANOVER, New Jersey – The New York Red Bulls have outscored their opponents 10-1 across all competitions. However, head coach Jesse Marsch and his troops are taking nothing for granted going into Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League matchup. They face Club Tijuana at Red Bull Arena in the return leg after winning at Estadio Caliente a week ago.
With the weather report calling for the possibility of snow and frigid temperatures coupled with a pair of road goals and a clean sheet in Mexico, as well as Xolos’ road record, New York could be feeling pretty confident heading into the match Tuesday night. However, Marsch isn’t a stranger to the challenge ahead of his club. “If you wanted to be naive, you could say we had a lot of things working in our favor. But, when you have these big series and big games you can almost throw records out the window and it becomes about who wants it more, who is able to execute more, who is able to stay more disciplined. That will be our challenge on the day. We’re not underestimating anything from Tijuana, that’s for sure.”
Arguably facing the most important match in this club’s history, the Red Bulls rotated their roster, giving an opportunity to their depth players to run the show. The result was a dominant 4-0 win in their MLS home opener on Saturday. It also provided rest for players that will face a difficult task in order to advance to the Champions League semifinals for the first time in club history. The importance of the moment has not escaped the coach. “We talked last year with the disappointment of losing in the playoffs that it was the first year where we felt that we played brave and with courage and went after things,” said Marsch.
The coach continued. “Coming into this year we wanted to make sure that this was not just a one-off or random situation, but now truly part of our identity. To make it part of our identity we were going to have to nurture it every day and continue to push each other to make sure that when big moments came we were going to be ready and so far this season I think we’ve shown that we continue to build that into what we do. Tomorrow night will be a big test on that, but the group will be up for it.”
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips echoed that sentiment. “I think the guys know that it’s going to be even tougher. If I was playing on that team I’d come here with nothing to lose and try to get some goals. We’ve got to prepare for that. We’ve got to deal with what the first half is going to be like. It’s probably going to be frantic, you know? We’re going to have to ride that wave and just see it out. We’re in a good position but we’re expecting it to be a very tough game,” said BWP after training on Monday.
Wright-Phillips has started 2018 with great production. He’s earned 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist) across all competitions this season.
The Red Bulls also got some good news. Midfielder Marc Rzatkowski is ready to go on Tuesday night. Rzatkowski was subbed off early in the match in Tijuana with a knock. An evaluation revealed that the injury was not as serious as originally thought. Marsch confirmed the midfielder, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, would be ready to go on Tuesday.