The New York Red Bulls are in for a fight against Club Deportivo Olimpia, so they know physicality is going to be a huge part of their strategy for the game in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
Felipe, one of the veterans on the club, said the first few weeks of preseason have been going well and they hope to learn from their quick exit from Champions League play last season.
"The good thing is that all our players arrived good physically, and mentally really well, so we are able to work really hard and try to do things better than last year," Felipe said. "Given all the experience, from the older to the youngest, a really positive the first two weeks."
Defender Michael Amir Murillo said the players all reported to camp in good shape, which has helped them hit the ground running in preseason.
"The team has been working really well together," Murillo said through a translator. "I feel like we have been getting better, because everyone trained a lot for this moment, for the CONCACAF Champions League. I see a team that is really together and with a lot of desire to work hard."
Newcomer Cristian Casseres, Jr. has said the veterans have helped him transition into his new club and the importance of the upcoming games.
"The first pre-season was really good, it helped me get back in the rhythm, and now I feel really good physically," Casseres, Jr. said through a translator. "I am taking advantage of this opportunity as much as possible. The team has integrated me to the group, and they have treated me really well."
Murillo said the club has put a real emphasis on the defensive unit working together so far.
"The defense is good, we have worked a lot on that part, and I think we have been getting a lot better," Murillo said.
Felipe, ready to square off with CD Olimpia in the first competitive match of the season on February 22, said it goes beyond just their strength on the pitch.
"I think, physically, we are better than last year," Felipe said. "That helps us to be able to work harder, and work on different things, not only on the physical part -- and that is really important."