Q&A with Luis Robles: First Place in the East, Riding the Highs and Lows, and Taking on Columbus

Luis Robles answers a few questions ahead of Saturday's clash against Columbus

Luis Robles answers a few questions ahead of Saturday's match against the Columbus Crew. Watch all the action live on MSG starting at 7 PM. Want to watch alongside fellow Red Bulls fans? Then come out to our second Outdoor Viewing Party of the season! More info available on our Facebook Event page.

The Red Bulls find themselves in an enviable position this weekend with a hold on first place, but this isn’t a lock by any means at this point in the season.

Yeah, target’s on our back now. With 11 games to go we can’t think too much about our position. We need to continue focusing on getting results. So we go to Columbus, and it’s a big game, because they want to get into the playoff picture but they’re an Eastern Conference rival. So it’s important for us to continue to not only maintain our position but gain ground on people behind us.

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Before the team put together this unbeaten run, you talked a bit about playoff contention. How one win can put you in the bubble, and one loss out of it. And yet here we are, almost a month later, and it’s the same scenario.

It is. Yeah it’s crazy to look at just the table, whether it’s the Western Conference or Eastern Conference and see how many teams have a three in front of their points. And if you’re sitting at 30, you’re realistically talking about one or two games and you’re right in the thick of it. And not just in the playoff picture, but fighting for the top three spots. So it’s really tight right now, but I also think this is where teams start to show their true colors. And that’s why it’s important for us to keep getting results. To show that not only are we a good team, but that we’re serious about not only getting into the playoffs but making a run.

We’ve seen the ups and downs throughout the season. Early on it was chances but no bounces. Then it was overcoming injuries, piecing together an unbeaten streak and now another one in the face of injuries again. Do you think it helped that the team’s adversity was tested early on? Did it prepare the team for this point?

I think it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to go through a season without some form of adversity, whether it’s through injuries or bad form. And the beginning was tough because we had a lot of personnel, we just weren’t getting some of the bounces. It’s a long season. Thirty-four games is a long season. A lot of games to play, and now here we are 23 games later and it seems like we solved some of our problems, but I think there’s still some things that we want to continue to improve on. And if we can do that, then our potential is high.

Looking over the past few weeks we had the No. 1 team in the West, followed by the No. 1 team in the East and both registered as wins. Saturday we take on Columbus, a team looking to battle for a spot in the postseason. What’s it going to take to make sure you keep a playoff-hungry team at bay?

They’ve definitely given us fits the last two times we’ve played them. We grinded one out at their place, and then here we even had to come from behind to secure the point. So they’re a good team. The record doesn’t necessarily speak for the quality that they have on that lineup, so it’s important for us to not only take the game to them, but to maintain that grit and discipline that we’ve had the last few games.