HANOVER, N.J. – After a weekend away from the pitch, the New York Red Bulls are looking to pick up right where they left off.
In the midst of a record-setting unbeaten streak, MLS play was put on hold for international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers during the international break. The likes of Sacha Kljestan (USA) and Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) remained in action, but the rest of the squad had a rare weekend off. But with another crucial Eastern Conference clash upcoming on Sunday afternoon, the guys got right back to work in Hanover.
“I feel like our group is in a really good way; training after those few days off has been fantastic,” head coach Jesse Marsch said. “Physically, mentally, psychologically, in all ways this group is ready to go.”
In preparation for a second matchup with Columbus Crew SC at the weekend, the Red Bulls returned to the training pitch and ramped up the intensity as they continue to push for the top spot in the conference.
While the time off could threaten to halt some of the momentum that has seen New York undefeated in their last 18 matches in all competitions, Marsch contends that some down time will serve the team well.
“More than anything, mentally to give guys the chance to get away and have some time with their families means that they’re refreshed when they come back,” he added. “Now we can push really hard down the stretch.”
Balancing that rest vs. rust mentality is always a challenging aspect of the somewhat oddly timed international break, but the team is confident that they have struck the right balance.
“It’s a tricky process because we were on a roll, but you want to get the right amount rest and the right amount of work in. I feel like Jesse has mastered that,” midfielder Mike Grella told NewYorkRedBulls.com. “Personally I feel the best I’ve felt in a while. Body, mind, everything feels great right now. We’re ready to go and continue where we left off.”