UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Teammates joke that New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Frank Rost seems to always be yelling at them.
The towering German, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.
“I’m pretty quiet; they don’t know me well,” Rost told MLSsoccer.com “I was pretty loud a few years ago. I’ve gotten quieter. But the goalkeeper is responsible for the organization of the team. The stadium is loud, so you have to be loud on the field.”
And, teammates’ jokes aside, Rost’s yelling could be the key when the Red Bulls take on FC Dallas in Wednesday night's WIld Card match at Pizza Hut Park (9 pm ET, FOX Soccer/TSN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The Red Bulls’ resurgence through September and October can be attributed in large part to a much-improved defense. Aside from a 3-1 blowout against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 21, New York has allowed just four goals in the last two months, and enter the playoffs with three consecutive shutouts.
Despite struggling with injuries after signing as a designated player in July from Bundesliga side Hamburger SV, the Rost has bounced back to become a crucial part of the Red Bulls’ stingy defense.
“It always takes a little time but Frank is a very experienced goalkeeper, having played at a high level in the Bundesliga,” assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s dominating the box a lot and that of course is very good for the back four and that is good for them to know that he comes well off the line and gets that ball.”
Rost’s control of the area has provided a calming presence in the defense, a change from the early season jitters that New York experienced.
That’s not to say that the back four don’t have to be on their toes. Two weeks ago, Rost leveled defender Stephen Keel on his way to collecting a cross.
“The more you play with somebody, the more you understand their style,” Keel said. “Everyone knows the crosses and balls, when he’s coming out. When he’s coming, I think everyone knows to get out of the way. He’s a large individual so when he comes, you feel it.”
Consistently the last one to leave the team’s practice field, Rost will often stay an hour after training to handle crosses, take goal kicks or field shots from goalkeeper coach Todd Hoffard. Often, Rost is so tired from pushing himself that he requests a ride in the equipment manager’s golf cart back to the locker room. He will be dripping in sweat and just lie down in the back of the cart.
For Rost, the repetition helps him limit mistakes and put his stamp on the game.
“Not only come out and catch a ball, for me, it is hold the easy balls,” Rost said. “For me it is bad if you hold one spectacular ball and then let through an easy ball, that’s not good. It is bad for the team if you do that. It builds confidence; you need that, to play easy in the back.”