The Red Bulls are in a confident mood following Sunday’s home opening 4-1 victory over Colorado, but the squad expects the newcomers to the league, the Montreal Impact, to be a tricky opponent.
New York is determined to turn Red Bull Arena into a fortress, and Sunday’s match proved to be a promising start.
“Every home game I think we need to make this a fortress, not just words, to be unbeatable at home,” head coach Hans Backe said Thursday after a team training session on the pitch at Red Bull Arena.
Right full back Jan Gunnar Solli is confident in his teammates, and believes in the importance of using home field advantage as a way to make the Red Bulls one of the toughest opponents for teams to play against on the road.
“It’s all about making this our arena, and no one’s going to come here and think they can take the game,” Solli said. “We have to be confident in our way of passing the ball and being direct. A lot of the teams are probably going to end up coming to stay low and just wait for breaks, but that gives us great opportunities to show everybody we can still play well.”
Offseason acquisition, and current Red Bulls leading-scorer Kenny Cooper, was thrilled to start his first match for New York and was blown away with the support he felt throughout Sunday’s opener.
“I thought it was a great atmosphere,” Cooper said. “It was my first taste playing here as a home player. I was really impressed with the atmosphere, the fans behind the goal were really into the game with the flags and the smoke. Everyone here really created a good atmosphere.”
While the strength of the home crowd is definitely a supporting factor for the Red Bulls, Backe is also approaching Saturday’s match focused on his side’s attacking strengths.
“It’s more about how we can handle our attacking game, if it’s fast enough, it would make it a one, two-touch game, that’s the only chance.”
The Impact’s inclusion into the league this season may, on paper, make them an unknown entity. However, head coach Jesse Marsch’s side is chock full of experienced players. After Thursday’s training session, Cooper spoke about the quality in Montreal’s lineup.
“It’s a team that has a lot of good players, a lot of players I respect,” Cooper said. “It may be their first year in our league, but they have a lot of players with MLS experience. There’s guys out there that know what they’re doing with a lot of good quality. They won’t be underestimated at all.”
Although Montreal has yet to win its first MLS game, Backe noted Montreal’s defensive prowess and high-level of organization.
“A very, very well-organized team and the defending game will be hard to break down,” Backe said. “I always feel these kind of games are a little bit rough games [to] play because they also have some pace up front for counters. But so far, what I’ve seen, they are an able defending game and very well organized.”
In the back, Montreal has a player with Serie A experience in Matteo Ferrari. Ferrari had stints with Inter Milan, Genoa, AS Roma and Parma. Ferrari’s center back partnership with Tyson Wahl has been effective with midfielder Patrice Bernier playing just in front of them. Playmaker Felipe Martins will be given freedom in the middle, and he has had a positive start this season after being named to the Week 2 MLS Team of the Week.
Conde’s return, Tainio back
New York has been delighted with the presence of Wilman Conde who returned for his Red Bulls regular season debut last Sunday. Conde played the full 90 minutes Sunday, and Backe has been more than pleased with his contribution.
Asked what kind of impact Conde has had, Backe said it has been “massive”.
“It’s been surprising for me, being out 10 months, and then being so solid, both defending and attacking, very precise in his passing game—incredibly strong defending, decent pace. If he can stay without injuries, he will just improve every game.”
Teemu Tainio will be available for selection Saturday after recovering from an ankle injury picked up in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium in the second match of the season against Salt Lake.
The Red Bulls will look to carry the momentum gained from Sunday’s electric start into Saturday's matchup against Montreal when the two teams kick off a 4pm ET on MSG. Get your tickets now, with great seats starting as low as $20!