October 18, 2015
VALIDATING THE WHOLE THING
Marsch is happy about winning the East, 'but really we’re hungry. We’re not satisfied. We want more'
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Jesse Marsch: “It’s a nice moment for our club, it’s a nice moment for our players and the work that they’ve put in."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. – For the fourth time in franchise history, once as the MetroStars and now three times as the Red Bulls, this once snake-bitten franchise has won the Eastern Conference title. A 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon is the latest banner that the team can raise above Red Bull Arena.
It now marks two times in the past three years and the third conference title for the Red Bulls since moving into their new stadium in 2010. But the latest title means more than just another banner and bragging rights.
It validates this whole thing.
This was perhaps the most tempestuous offseason this franchise has had in more than a decade. A new sporting director who fired a club legend as head coach and the exodus of players such as Thierry Henry (retirement), Tim Cahill (cast off to China), Jamison Olave (traded) and Peguy Luyindula (retired, we think).
In their place, head coach Jesse Marsch, who replaced the popular Mike Petke (fired in January) brought in castoffs and misfits, lining up unknowns to replace superstars. His roster was panned as below average in MLS.
“It’s a nice moment for our club, it’s a nice moment for our players and the work that they’ve put in," Marsch said. "I’m happy for the organization and the positive vibe that has gone on from Day 1 that I’ve been here. Everyone around here has continued to show belief in me and belief in the way that we operate as a team, and belief in our players and our team – we’ve all been out in a situation to succeed.
“Yeah, it’s a nice time to reflect but really we’re hungry. We’re not satisfied. We want more. We want to honor everything that has been done by making the strongest push we possibly can and have the exact kind of mentality we know we need to have to give us a chance to win a championship.”
Now here they sit, winning the conference and a win away from the Supporters Shield.
The win on Sunday also gave the Red Bulls a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League and extra $150,000 in allocation money to spend next year. This win will resonate next year, when they can perhaps re-sign Mike Grella and Kemar Lawrence to longer deals with those extra funds.
“We’re proud of what we’ve become, we’re proud of the identity we’re building," Marsch said. "I’m honest when I say that year one is only the start of the project. Obviously I think we’re where we want to be right now but this whole thing is about building for years to come.
“If we could end the first year with a couple of trophies in the case, I think that continues to validate [everything] that we’re doing. We’ve believed in it from Day One. We’ve had a plan, we’ve stuck to it. I think it’s helped us be successful.”