"The best ever."
That's how Assistant Coach Chris Armas explained the physical fitness of the New York Red Bulls in Arizona as they prepare for Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
"We have a great group that’s committed and I think we learned our lesson from last year, not being prepared enough for the early stage of the tournament and it cost us," Armas said. "We’ve put in a lot for physical fitness. We’re in a good spot, in a good place."
Midfielder Tyler Adams said that the way the Red Bulls trained has made everyone step up their fitness levels -- veterans and new faces alike.
"I think that you see every body, all the new guys especially, this is the most intense training that they’ve had," Adams said. "Coming from different clubs, obviously they work hard, but we know we push it a little bit harder, so getting that fitness right for the games is going to be important."
As for their Round of 16 opponent, Club Deportivo Olimpia, Adams said they see a lot of the Red Bulls in the way the Honduran team plays.
"Olimpia’s a good team," Adams said. "They play similar to us, so we’re going to start watching tape. Guys are really pushing to get in that game."
Armas said the team has been preparing for a while now, to face Olimpia.
"Since we arrived here in Arizona we’ve shifted," Armas said. "We’ve done some work on our days back home even in the last weeks – watching games, cutting film, studying that opponent.
"I think we have a pretty good handle on that team -- what to expect from a tactical standpoint, personnel standpoint, but then of course there’s that element of when you’re gone to Central America what those games could look like, regardless of all of the things that you think can matter, so we’re preparing," the assistant coach said.
The Red Bulls brought a smaller group to Arizona than was at their first preseason camp, with a focus on increasing competition, both in training and in upcoming scrimmages, with their first game just two weeks out.
"Top to bottom, this roster is more competitive than ever, which is great," Armas said. "That’s what we want."