When Gerhard Struber joined the New York Red Bulls at the end of the 2020 season, he knew he wanted to install and refine a very specific identity on the team.
On Sunday, after all the highs and lows of his first full season in charge, the Red Bull identity was on full display.
"The style of play, the identity, the learning curve over the first three to four months go always in a roller coaster direction and after that, I think we are more stable and we realize more of what is going on deep in our identity, what is the exact task, what is the exact moment for pressing, what synchronized pressing, and the connection between the new players and the old players, the understanding from them for what I want from them in every single game is more and more with their brain," Struber said.
"Now, I think you can make a wake-up call at two o’clock in the morning and every single player understand what we want, and I think this is the biggest answer. For our style of play, with so many rule breakers, you need time, you cannot change everything on the fast side, and you make on the same time the right results. You have some hits in the head and we get some big hits in the head, especially in the summertime. I think the first big answer is for me in difficult times you realize more and more people around the team or with the team or in the team they can go through difficult times, and I think this makes the team spirit and the togetherness extremely close. I think that X factor in our team is on a very high level, and I think you need some bad times that you come closer together and I think the bad times for us were very helpful for our team process. This was not the explosion that the team go in different directions, in our situation the team stay together very close in difficult times with our technical plan this realize in the end the playoffs."
Captain Sean Davis had nothing but praise, not only for his Head Coach, but for the entire staff.
"He deserves a lot of credit, along with the rest of the coaching staff, and the players deserve a lot of credit as well for buying in, believing and ultimately getting the job done," Davis said. "Now it is up to us to make it even more memorable and again, do well in the playoffs and see how far we can take this because it is a special group. I think we can really go for MLS Cup."
Following a difficult summer stretch, RBNY pulled themselves together to battle up the standings from 13th and into the postseason.
"I am just so proud of the group and proud of the staff for how we all adjusted, how we all looked into the mirror and ultimately got the job done," Davis said. "I am really proud that, again, it is a club with really high standards, and it is important that we protect the culture and continue to move in the right direction."
Cristian Cásseres Jr. said it's about how the team has come together, as a family.
"We were able to change the situation, little by little, we improved and became more as a union," Cásseres Jr. said. "We run as a family, work as a family, play like a family, and that really helped us to get to this point of the season and of course, in the playoffs."