Harrison, NJ (March 1, 2018) – New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch is no stranger to the challenge his club faces in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals.
“Now the stakes get raised quite a bit,” Marsch said after New York eliminated CD Olimpia on Thursday night. “We know that anytime you play a Mexican team that you are going to deal with a team that is good on the ball, a team that is going to test you, a team that is fit, a team that can run. I am glad we got two competitive games under our belt, so we got fitness up, we got sharpness up, we felt the pressure of a big game, and now we will be put to the test, and I know we are all excited about the challenge.”
The Red Bulls acknowledged not only the challenge their opponent presents, but also how their play needs to improve before next week’s tilt in Mexico. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips stated matter of factly, “I think we can’t give them anything. They’re a good team that can create already. We can’t give them anything. We have to be good in both boxes. We’ve got to get an away goal and can’t concede.”
Facing CD Olimpia did not stop Marsch from beginning preparations for Club Tijuana. Having played for Chivas USA for a time, Marsch had exposure to the Mexican game. He’s no stranger to Tijuana’s style of play. “When Tijuana spreads the field they hit you from one side and quickly get the other, and it’s a good passing team, it’s a fit team, it’s a talented team,” said Marsch. “It won’t be easy down there playing on turf; the turnaround is quick for us because we play on Tuesday. They play tomorrow night, and we will see what kind of lineup they field for that game and then turn around to play for Tuesday.”
A big part of that preparation is fitness. Coming into preseason, BWP and his teammates were determined not to let their fitness hinder them. “Our mindset coming into this preseason was that there would be zero excuses going into these CONCACAF games and that’s the right mindset, in my opinion, that’s the most important mindset in my opinion,” the striker said. “Because at the end of the day, you can make excuses, but with our group, we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but that we would have to prepare ourselves the best way possible in December.”
Marsch, of course, sees room for improvement, especially when it comes to finishing chances. “The first half we take our advantages better, I think we can shut that game down much earlier, and that’s kind of the progression when you start playing. How you can finalize plays, how you can clean up some certain moments.”
Marsch continued. “It’ll come, and the fitter and sharper the guys get and managing fatigue. That’s the main thing, I think tactically we were good in this series we created a lot of advantages, and now we have to capitalize on them.”
Marsch and his troops travel to Mexico for the 1st leg of their Champions League Quarterfinal matchup vs. Club Tijuana on March 6th at 10 pm EST.