Started just days after being acquired – with only one training session under his belt with his new teammates – Tim Parker is readying for another big test on Tuesday night against Club Tijuana.
The New York Red Bulls host Tijuana in Leg 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Jesse Marsch started Parker at center back for the Red Bulls in Leg 1, just 24 hours after he met up with the club in Mexico.
“It made me feel very confident that Jesse was willing to trust me,” Parker said following training on Monday. “I told him I was fit and ready to go and, obviously, I want to be a part of this team. So, to have him trust me and start me in that game meant a lot to me. It was really good feeling.”
Bradley Wright-Phillips said he was surprised at the quality of Tijuana’s set pieces, which is something they’re going to look out for in Tuesday’s matchup.
“They were good on set pieces,” Wright-Phillips said. “I didn’t expect them to be as big as they were and aggressive. It was really, on both the attack and defense, it was hard to get any room and when we were trying to defend them they were getting ahead to a lot of the first balls. It’s something we’ve looked at and something we will have to take seriously tomorrow because they’re a threat.”
BWP said that New York will still play Red Bulls soccer, no matter what the rest of the game dictates.
“You don’t want to sit and absorb. I think you’ve got to see how the game is played,” Wright-Phillips said. “We’re not built to sit back and just chill out. We’re going to make it hard for them. We’re at home. We’re normally good at home. I think the pressure is kind of on them. It’s not really on us. The pressure is on them so we’ve just got to play our game.”
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The Red Bulls allowed a bevy of shots on goal during the match, but Luis Robles and the defense held Tijuana off the board. Despite holding a two-goal lead, Marsch said the defense can’t rest on their laurels from Leg 1.
“We know that Tijuana’s a very good team and will throw a lot at us,” Marsch said. “Hopefully, we won’t need [Robles] as much as we needed him last game, but if we do he’ll be ready.”
Parker has been working with fellow defenders to get in sync with his teammates as they head into the biggest match of 2018 so far.
“Every day, they’re just talking me through little scenarios,” Parker said. “Little scenarios here, little scenarios there that I can kind of just get engrained in my brain so that, obviously, it becomes natural to me.”