HARRISON, NJ. – After crashing out of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the pressure was on the New York Red Bulls. Fans voiced their disapproval with the lineup, the formation, and the coaching decisions. Battling mental and physical fatigue, the team faced the Montreal Impact on an unseasonably warm afternoon in Harrison. Following a tentative first half, the team regrouped and finished with a 3-1 win. Jesse Marsch and his side remain undefeated at home this year in all competitions.
Jesse Marsch Demands More from New York Red Bulls
A Lead That Did Not Last
Midfielder Florian Valot threaded a ball into Bradley Wright-Phillips, who handled defensive pressure for the first goal in the 5th minute. The goal was Wright-Phillips’s 90th in his MLS career. Following the match, Valot credited the prolific striker with making his job with the assist easy. “He makes great runs, you just have to see it.” Despite the early strike, the Impact fought to take back control. Ignacio Piatti’s first free kick outside the box was way over the net, and Jaissen Vargas took a shot that forced RBNY captain Luis Robles to make a signature save. Eventually, the Impact leveled the match before 45 minutes were over with a free kick from Vargas.
Marsch’s Mental Mandate
This did not sit well with head coach Jesse Marsch. “If we were any good today, it’d be 4-0,” he said to MSG’s Michelle Gingras at halftime. He further hinted at personnel changes at halftime, saying “[W]e’re gonna find eleven players that’ll go after the game.” While we may never know exactly what was said, Marsch clearly challenged the team to refocus for the 2nd half, rather than make any tactical adjustments. “Tactically at half time, we changed nothing,” said Marsch. With no substitutions made at halftime, the challenge was accepted by the Starting XI. Marsch explained in the post-match press conference.
A Difference-Making Second Half
Alejandro Romero Gamarra created his chances and scored his first MLS goal in the 57th minute. The push forward in the second half led to defenders Kemar Lawrence and Michael Amir Murillo connecting for the third goal. RBNY ended the match with 18 total shots, while Montreal only had 9, all of them coming in the first half. New York fouls decreased drastically in the 2nd half as well, while possession and passing increased. By the final whistle, Marsch had reason to be pleased with his full team. “It’s always a collective. You’re always trying to challenge each individual to grow and get better within the group, but in the end, it’s all about the collective understanding how to manage it, which we saw in the second half, which was very good.”