Q&A with Luis Robles: On Preparing for Houston, Finding the Team's Identity, and Righting the Wrongs

Houston’s coming to town Sunday, the Red Bulls' first home game in almost a month. What can we expect to see from the Dynamo?

I think everyone knows they’re a good team. They’re coached very well. Kinnear has had the core of those guys for a while, so their nucleus is pretty strong. They’re the type of team that can grind it out and they can also play well. So it’ll be important for us to not only keep our shape defensively but also implement the way we want to play, whether that’s on the side or trying to find Thierry up, it’s important that we don’t let them dictate the game the way Philly did during the first five minutes of the last game.

Let’s talk about that Philly game a little bit. Coming off a 3-0 loss isn’t the best of results when coming out of the break, but what are the positives, if any, that the club can build off of?

That it was the 17th week, that’s the positive. There’s still plenty of time to correct our wrongs. You know we can blame the break, we can blame being a man down; the fact is if we want to be a championship team, those are the games that we have to grind out. Unfortunately we just started wrong in that one.

The team has had a few different waves this season, starting with the unfortunate bad bounces at the start of the season, followed shortly after by that eight-game unbeaten streak, and now two losses – is that just the way the season goes? Riding the highs and the lows?

Yeah. Yeah, but Mike [Petke] stated last week is that our goal is to be a playoff team. So once we get into the playoffs and accomplish that goal, then we want to look higher than that. But it’s those types of games that we need to avoid, in the sense of that start of – I don’t think mentally we were there, ready for that game. It’s no excuse because that was a rivalry game. We should’ve been up for that. But the season is long, thankfully. I think that’s what I said is the positive is that it’s the middle part of the season, and it’s important this next game now that we correct those wrongs and bounce back.

When you look at the Eastern Conference you see that a lot of teams are so close together in terms of points. We’re not talking about playoff contention just yet, but we will be soon. Houston’s one of those team’s in the playoff window, and Philly’s tied with us as well for second in the Conference. At what point does it really come to a point where you can’t afford to make those mistakes anymore and you have to make sure those adjustments and corrections have been made?

Right now it’s the middle of the season, but when it gets closer to the end, because of how tight it is, there’s a very small margin for error. And regardless of Houston being in the fifth position, I think they’re only three points behind us. So this is a six-point game for us. This is important for us to get a result. But we want to look to find some momentum. If you look at L.A. last year, the way they went into the playoffs, they had that momentum. That’s something we look to create, but right now it’s also important to really find out what team we want to be. I think after 17 games we still are not sure what type of team we want to be. Whether it’s the team that grinds it out for 90 minutes or the team that can dictate play. So, I think there’s a lot to be done still.