Learning from their experiences on the big stage will be a key point for the New York Red Bulls as they hunker down and fully prepare for MLS matches.
“If we are going to be a mentally strong team, then we have got to be able to handle tough moments well and move forward quickly," Head Coach Jesse Marsch said on Thursday. "I think we had a good talk as a team and the one thing we have here about this group is confidence. We have confidence in the group we have, we have confidence in the full roster and we know we are a good team. It was not random that we were able to make a run in Champions League. We are putting ourselves in good position to grow day in and day out so that as the season and year go on we are getting better and better and better and at the end of the year we are playing our best.”
The Red Bulls turn their sights to the Montreal Impact, who visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday, April 14 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
"They are intelligent," Marsch said of the Impact team. "[Rémi Garde] is very tactical, so he has them playing some version of a 5-3-2. I think their roles are clear, you can catch a lot of trends when you watch them play and I think they are very organized. It should be a fun matchup, it won’t be easy, [Igancio] Piatti will be back, and obviously, he is a major factor for them, so we have analyzed them already, we will prepare the team tomorrow and we will make sure we are ready to go.”
Montreal and New York both enter the game with six points on the season, with the Impact playing five games this season to the Red Bulls' four.
“I think it is going to be a test for us to control our emotions and be able to switch our view to the most important thing which is the thing ahead of us," Alex Muyl said. "Although it was a wild ride for us and something we all cared about, now we have to focus on the task at hand and work our way up the charts and try to get in playoff position. We have a very strong [Eastern Conference] this year and it is going to be important to get points early in the season, because they count the same at the end of the season.”
Marc Rzatkowski will take on the Impact for the first time with the Red Bulls, but the team and staff had already prepped him for what to expect.
"I think it’s a tough game for us, but we are playing at home and we have to put our focus on our play and our match plan," Rzatkowski said. "I am looking forward to this and I am really sure that we we’ll play a good game and hopefully get three points at home."
And as the season progresses, the Red Bulls know that their early-season experiences will pay off in the end.
"I think we need to take the lessons that we learned and take those experiences and build from them and grow," Muyl said. "I don’t think too many teams are in those kind of games and I think that it is going to be a big advantage for us coming, especially in playoffs, but even throughout the regular season.”
Rzatkowski knows the team has pretty much the full season ahead of them and that's what the focus is on.
"It’s hard, but the season just started so we have a lot of things to play for and this is where our focus has to be on, so we are just giving our best and playing for things that we can play for right now," Rzatkowski said.