(Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara – @NewYorkRedBulls)
The Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union played to a scoreless draw Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls are now unbeaten in their last five games (4-0-1), and their record is now 7-1-3, with 22 points. They now have a home record of 4-1-1 this year at Red Bull Arena.
They have moved up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, just two points behind NYCFC, who lost in Houston on Friday night.
The Red Bulls are just three points behind Atlanta for the top spot in the conference with a game in hand.
Ryan Meara got his second straight start in goal for the Red Bulls, in place of the injured Luis Robles, who was honored before the game for his streak of 183 straight consecutive games.
Meara recorded his first league clean sheet of 2018 with two saves, his first since his rookie season against Houston on May 9, 2012.
Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake earned the save with four saves.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch postgame press conference:
Q. Was it a lack of sharpness in the attack or did they make things more difficult?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I think, first of all, it’s a hot day, right, and so now you have a really hot and humid day and both teams haven’t really trained in that weather much, haven’t played in that weather much, so it really slows the game down.
I thought the first half hour of the first half was quite good and we were moving the ball well and creating spaces and tried to use that to create openings. In the end, you know, we don’t really do enough and then at the right moments, Wright made some big saves and he does a good job on the crosses.
And so you know, but what I said to the team is it feels disappointing any time we don’t win at home but you know, Philly put a lot into it. They competed hard. They had a good game plan, good tactics. Their players made it difficult on us in transition, and there have been many times in the past where this team would have given that game away and we would have somehow wound up losing that 2-0, which actually, we’ve done against Philly.
As much as it’s a little frustrating not to break through and get the goal and find a way to get the three points, still, sealing the game up and not giving the goal away, giving up a penalty, as well but still find a way to get a clean sheet is good and we’ll take the point and move on.
Q. First half, you were able to spread the ball around, and second half seems like you bogged down and Kaku was off and you got very narrow in central. Was it something they did?
JESSE MARSCH: I think they did a good job. First of all, you’ve got to give credit to the two young center backs for Philly. They did a good job of keeping track of Brad, not letting him get too much space, a little bit of room there in the second half, maybe around the 70th minute, 75th minute.
But overall, they did a good job and yeah, they try to keep things compressed and we try to find ways to still penetrate and play through them but we were not quite sharp enough on the day and included in there is like not feeling like we quite have our legs enough. So you know, now that the summer is going to roll around and it’s going to start to get hot, we’re going to have to acclimatize to the heat and train more in the heat and then use more guys at different times. So we’ll be ready to do that but I’m not taking negatives away from this. I’m taking positives and I’m taking we are going to move forward in a good way and there’s a lot of momentum in our team right now.
Q. Parker had a very good match, as well. Can you talk about since you brought him over from Vancouver, how important is not just the center back pairing with Aaron, but also the save he made to help out Ryan when he left his line for that attempted shot by Philly?
JESSE MARSCH: I think Tim, you know, what I’ve said about Tim is the transition of him to our team from a mentality and tactic and style of play has been literally seamless. I don’t think we’ve ever had a player come into this team and fit so smoothly into what we do, and that’s a lot of credit to, I think, our scouting team and our sporting team of identifying him as the type of player that we need, and it’s a big credit to Tim. It’s a big credit to Tim and his excitement and anxiousness to try to come here and fit in right way and establish himself on our team.
I think I said last week that Aaron and Tim are a really good duo, and they showed it again tonight.
Q. Ryan, very solid.
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I think that if you would have told Ryan he would play in two big games and he would walk away with one goal after 180 minutes he would be very satisfied with that, and I think that it’s not just the one goal in 180 minutes. It’s also the way he played, the saves he made, the clarity he had on the field. Like his transition into the team, it was like he’s been there for years.
So really happy for him and obviously Preston has done a good job of making sure that he’s ready to go and you have to credit Red Bull II, but Ryan, he’s a good goalie and it’s great to see him do well when he’s called upon.
Q. Last week you were optimistic — goes the distance today — what do you think of him today and what was it that happened to him last week?
JESSE MARSCH: Well, to be honest with you, there’s some theorys on what happened with Kemar. It wasn’t concussion-related. It was something maybe with either a heart kind of reaction or something in his neck and then how that can somehow release chemicals to shut you down, like almost a whiplash-like neck thing. They have done a myriad of testing on him. Everything has come back very positive. He feels great, so there was no issues, right.
You know, if you know Kemar and his love of life and his love of the game, you pretty much knew that if he was cleared and felt fine, that he was going to be able to play today, and he did. And so you know, I don’t know if you guys saw him afterwards but he had his two kids. He has his whole family in town now and he has his green card. You feel like he’s really acclimating on every level to what we do here and who we are and he’s been a big contributor on every level.
I’m happy that he’s okay. It was a scary moment for all of us. And so, yeah, we’ll keep moving forward with him, but he’s important and everybody’s really happy for him.
Q. Carlos, what do you think about the game — you brought him in after awhile and he has not been out in action, and why haven’t we seen more of him?
JESSE MARSCH: Well, there’s been a few different things. He’s had some injuries and he had a personal issue that he had to go to Colombia for a little bit of time. But we’re continuing to try to bring him into things.
Tomorrow he’s going to play with the USL team. He’s continuing to try to figure out the tactics and how we play. But you know, we’re still very hopeful that as this thing moves along that he’s going to continue to figure it out and become a big attacking piece for us.
You know, we’re going to be missing some guys in the next stretch of games and we have a lot of games coming one after the other, so we’re going to have to call on more guys and we’re going to have to make sure that they are fit, that they are clear and that they are ready to go.
Q. Luis Robles, any update on his status? Because of Ryan’s performance, you don’t have to rush him back?
JESSE MARSCH: I don’t think that Ryan’s performances will change our approach with Luis. It’s just making sure that whatever we do with Luis we set him up to be successful and strong and ready to go.
My guess is that he starts training this week, but we are still just taking steps on a daily basis to try to make sure that everything, when we add a little bit more to the workload that his knee responds correctly and that he’s in good place and that we’re not risking further injury.
So far everything has gone better than you ever could have hoped and that’s one of the strange things. We just want to make sure that we are not stressing anything, but all the responses from him physically have been great. Like I said, I think we’ll see him training this week.
Q. What were the goals of the adjustments and how did they work out in the second half?
JESSE MARSCH: We felt there was too big a separation between our front four and our next six, which meant that specifically with Medunjanin and Dockal, as well, we were able to pick up balls in gaps and send their wingers out on the run, and that made us do a lot of dirty running which then gave us fatigue, which then didn’t allow us to have a grasp on the game, and the heat, that was something that was getting away from us.
I think we did better with it in the second half for sure but weren’t able to quite capitalize on our possession and certain attacking moments. You know, we’ll keep working.
Q. In regards to the time of possession, you controlled the ball pretty well. But the offensive side, was there a reason for mostly attacking on the left side?
JESSE MARSCH: We have a specific game plan, sometimes attack on the right, sometimes attack on the left, sometimes to go through the middle, sometimes to create match ups that we like. Sometimes we like to play up and more direct and to certain areas and become second ball. Sometimes there’s a lot of little different things we do to modify our tactics for the opponent.
You know, one of the things that challenged some of the things we wanted to achieve today was fatigue and heat and everything else, so you know, I think Philly did a good job defending. You have to give credit to them and their goalkeeper, so they were not really able to let us establish certain things. We’ll do better. We’ll do better moving forward. We’ll find ways to be more dangerous.
Q. Tim Curtin just named the Red Bulls the best team in the MLS. What do you think about this statement?
JESSE MARSCH: You know, I don’t — I don’t like, I don’t — like feeling like we’re the best and I don’t like people saying that we’re the best, I truly don’t like that.
I like to feel like we always need — we always have something to prove, right, and we always have more to do and more room to grow and further improvement, so it’s key for us to maintain our hunger. You know, the group was disappointed in the locker room afterward but you know, we’re not going to win every game. That’s not reality.
But as long as we have a real concentration and a work ethic to prove and do more and do better each day, then we will continue to establish ourselves as a good team and give ourselves a really good chance to really play for something and that remains the goal. The goal is to not to be good in May. The goal is to put ourselves in position to be good in October and to really go after the playoffs.
I appreciate Jim saying that. He’s a good friend, maybe that’s why he’s saying it, but we’ve still got a long way to go, that’s for sure.