On the walls at the New York Red Bulls Training Facility are large silver letters spelling out "FAMILY," surrounded by photos of players celebrating, cheering and hugging.
"This is a family club, and every single day, on the field and off the field, you can feel this is one team," Daniel Royer said at end of year media availability. "The club has high demands, and I think that’s really good. Of course, the coaching staff and everybody is asking for a lot, but everybody’s willing to do that and that’s a great mentality."
Royer said that the team went through a lot of ups and downs through the year -- from the U.S. Open Cup run to their season ending too soon -- but the mentality of the group always came out the other side stronger.
"I just can tell you on the field, on the training pitch, and beside the field its just a great bunch of guys here," Royer said.
Royer said that, compared to other teams he's played for, the Red Bulls strike the right balance of serious work and off-field fun, which helps the group become closer and tighter as a unit.
Aaron Long, spending his first full season with the first team, said that feeling is pervasive throughout the locker room.
"I think this club is very big with how we work off the field," Long said. "Our sense of family and togetherness. I pride myself on being a good locker room guy and having fun with the guys and I think everyone enjoys that. I enjoy everyone with this club. I think it works both ways."
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Head Coach Jesse Marsch took a more reflective approach to how the team works together, especially when faced by challenges.
"I’ve learned that being here, it’s so much more than just me. Sometimes, I got too introspective, I got too on top of myself, and I had to release a little bit and invest in people around me, for us all to think about how we can get better," Marsch said. "That gives you, not only room for growth, but also security that your vulnerability and not having the answer all the time is a good thing. The more that you can open your mind to how relationships work and how to unite people together, the better that all of us will be.
"That’s truly, what I think I have become, as a leader, is somebody that tries to really look carefully at what we do, how we do it and how to get better."
Marsch went on to say that despite every challenge placed in their way this year, and during his tenure with the club, he's looking forward to working with his Red Bull family to help accomplish the ultimate goal.
"I’m a firm believer that we will get there. I know it’s painful for our fans, for all of us," Marsch said. "We are going to get there. I have no doubt. I’m more encouraged now than I have ever been."