Following the New York Red Bulls’ victory over the Houston Dynamo last Friday, several players mentioned how the intense week of training was one of, if not, the best of the season and that it benefited them in the buildup to the 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena.
Head coach Hans Backe agreed with that assessment on Monday and offered a little bit of insight as to why the practices were a step above most of the rest.
“We just worked with the pressing game more than we’ve done before and everyone [got after it],” Backe told reporters. “The aggressiveness in the pressing game, the tackles, suddenly to almost try to have a session that looks like a competitive game, and that everyone stepped up and just said, ‘This is the way it has to be.’”
Backe was also asked about captain Thierry Henry’s critical comments before and after the win against Houston, and he agreed with his star striker, saying that New York have not been able to put games away even if they have gone up early.
“The first 60-70 minutes was really the spirit and attitude we wanted to see, but I can agree with him a little because almost every game with us is to the end, the 90th minute,” Backe said. “Even if we control the game and pick up chances, we never have been able to just [say], ‘Calm down a little bit, this game is over, we’re winning 2- or 3-0 and can have possession.’”
“It’s in a way that kind of attitude [from Henry] that we probably need to perform like this, because this is the way it has to be every game from now on: that kind of pressing game, that attitude, taking care of our own business, so that was good,” Backe said. “It was definitely what you call an upgrade.”
Backe also addressed the status of trialist Lloyd Sam, who is set to play with the Red Bulls’ reserves against D.C. United’s reserves on Monday. Backe said a decision on the winger, who has trained with the team since early last week, would be made following the match.
“I think [assistant coach Mike Petke] can just inform me,” said Backe. “I mean I’ve seen Lloyd quite a lot from his games in Leeds and Notts County and what he has done in our training sessions, so Mike after this game will just give me an update.”
A team spokesman also confirmed that center back Babjide Ogunbiyi, who signed a deal with the club on July 31 but has only been rarely seen with the team since, is still undergoing his physical work and is not officially on the team roster yet.