PRESS CONFERENCE: Jesse Marsch | 04/14/18

New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch

Q. Was that what you wanted today, after being eliminated from the Champions League, a solid 90 minutes out there, great goal by Brad and some fantastic defense from your guys today?
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah and I I even think the way it went where we showed vulnerability in the first half, and we knew that we weren't going to be perfect on the day because of fatigue and mental grind. And then at half time we visited that carefully and said, come on, the task at hand is: How good can we be at managing this moment mentally more than anything and making sure that we are on top of things so that we got out of this game with the result that we need and we can then move on with our season appropriately.

You know, I expected to see moments like we saw in the first half where -- where, you know, we weren't as engaged and on top of things as we were. And then I was hopeful that when that would happen, that we would find a way to get our strength back and then find a way to get the result.

And so that kind of went according to plan or what we needed, so I think that we found that it's never easy, but there's a lot of strength within the group in many ways. Yeah, obviously a good result, an important result and good for us to get three points after everything we've been through this year.

Q. Judging from your half time comments, it seemed obvious that there were a couple instances where you wanted to see a little bit more?

Q. I'm just curious where you saw that. What was the message in there and what -- where did you see those specific improvements in the second half?
JESSE MARSCH: Listen, I'm not going to call players out, but I would say mostly as a group, right it was -- because even what few guys or a few too many guys are dropping their heads or not engaged or tuned in, then it's still up to everyone else to take ahold of it and make sure that it doesn't slip.

It's always a collective. You're always trying to challenge each individual to grow and get better within the group, but in the end, it's all about the collective understanding, how to manage it, which we saw in the second half, which was very good.

Q. Was it all mental or was there any tactical changes because statistically, they out-shot you in the first half and you didn't allow them a shot in the second half. You had seven fouls in the first half, two in the second. I mean, it wasn't --
JESSE MARSCH: I don't think it was as much tactical as it was now mental, and then making sure that the tactics were cleaner. So that was both in the pressing and with the ball.

The game was there for us with the ball and we were just making too many mistakes, not enough movement, not enough guys that wanted the ball, and that all -- that rhythm and that confidence changed in the second half, but a lot of it was their mental sharpness to stay on top of the game.

So I mean, yeah, you could say it's some tactical but we didn't change anything. Tactically at half time, we changed nothing. And I think I may be talked about a couple of things that we needed to adjust with the ball, but it was all about our approach, and so that's what got us to the end.

Q. Kaku has two goals in this tournament, both of them assisted by BWP. Can you talk about this new society going forward?
JESSE MARSCH: Well, I think more than anything, this was Kaku's best game by a mile, right, and he's worked hard to try to understand tactically what we're trying to get out of him. He's worked hard to understand now what the reactions are, where he's needed, what kind of final plays. Even on Thursday, we used to kind of put him in situations where he could make more final plays in training and I think it created clarity for him.

So we're working through that. You know, part of what I said that we've had -- after the Chivas game I said we've missed steps. Some of it is to do with Kaku; that we've had to take more time to kind of continue to work him into things. But you know, now -- Matt Harmon asked me before the game, is it time to take the handcuffs off? The answer's yes.

It's time to let him go and understand and allow him to really fit into the group, and today I think he showed everyone, including himself, that he's going to be a really good fit here and he's going to be a big player here.

And the part with Brad, that relationship will be key. That relationship will be key. We need to make sure that they understand each other's tendencies and movements and that they are clear with what kind of relationship we want them to have.

So what a great finish, right. It wasn't easy because it came in kind of fast on him and he was compact but he just in a real clean way put the ball where it needed to go, so really good game from Kaku, really good.

Q. Sticking with Kaku, where does he need to grow and improve on? Is it fitness? Understanding of the system? For the first half, he seemed tentative and the second half he came alive a little bit.
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I thought first half he was pretty good, though. I just thought that our ability to work, like part of his -- he has more freedom than most of the players on the team, right, because he's a creative player and he's a No. 10.

So he can kind of move around to find the game but the key for him is to not drift to the wing all the time. The key for him is to stay in the middle sections where we need him to be a conduit with the ball but also to be available to counter press and now do the things we need to do against the ball.

So that part for him today was the best. He didn't drift wide. He didn't try to go to easy places to find the ball. He was in places that are difficult and tight but he's gifted enough to do that. So we're trying to encourage him.

And then the part about the pressing tactics. It was a little bit easier today because he could almost just stay on Piatti, and that was kind of his role, and we'll have to continue to build in different things on different days. But I think today he showed a comprehensive understanding of what we need him to do and obviously his ability to make plays is quite good.

Q. Here it is, 80 degrees outside, best day after a long, endless winter. Where do you think the fans were?
JESSE MARSCH: I don't know. You know, we're trying to do everything we can. I think this team, it's interesting, because we do, we perform at a high level, especially here at home. You know, and it's a fun team to watch.

So you know, we'll keep trying to come up with ways to get people out here, but they should be really proud of this team because it continues to show again and again and again, like even with some turnover and new players coming in and home grown and the philosophy, it just continues to I think really grow and mature. So yeah. We'll keep working.

Q. Your personal opinion about the game.
JESSE MARSCH: This game? Yeah, it was good. It was good to get three points. It was good to respond after a very difficult Tuesday night. Our group is strong. We like our group a lot and I think we're only getting better but this was I think a big statement to ourselves that we could handle the disappointment and be strong enough to get through it. You know, I think it was an important for night and one that I'm proud of the guys.

Q. Two questions for you. Murillo looks so much more comfortable this season and looks very settled in today on the wing, dealing with a guy like Piatti. How do you feel like he's coming along? And Kaku, when you look back at that Wednesday game, and you see how he played today, some people might say, why didn't he start on Wednesday and it did look --
JESSE MARSCH: Tuesday. It's okay. I knew this was coming on. Let me answer the Amir one first.

Yeah, so Amir is really gifted, right, physically, tactically, technically, and since he's been here, we've seen the qualities and when he's come from Panama, he's got a very tranquillo mode about him so we've tried to ramp up, especially with what we do here. It's a mentality thing.

So we're always trying to push his mentality to be the best that he can be, the best, most intense, most energetic, most concentrated version of himself. And when he is that, he's very, very good. Very good. And the ceiling is very high.

Now, when he gets fatigued sometimes and he gets frustrated with himself or with anything else, then it can drop a little bit and the challenge for him is now -- especially now leading up to the World Cup, like how engaged and how sharp can he be in every way so that he gets better and better and he's ready for some big challenges come the summer.

Yeah, I mean, with Kaku, listen, we talked heavily about it and at all moments, when was going to be the right time, when was going to be the right time to really insert him and take off the handcuffs and let him go and do the things that we know that eventually he'll be able to do.

You know, in these high-level games, for us, the tactics are often the most important thing, and in some ways, I didn't think it would be fair to Kaku or the team to putt him in situations where he might not be ready for it.

Now, when you see tonight, of course, well, everyone is going to say he should have played in Tuesday. That game was a very different game. Very different game. It was a game about them locking in on us, not having any space, about mobility, about movement up top, and so -- and it's not to say that Kaku couldn't have fit in there and we couldn't have helped him do certain thing. But we made that decision based on what we thought that game would require; and if he came in late, there might be more space and he might be able to make some plays and he almost did.

We've all had to do a lot of reflection on Tuesday night, but my God, we played great. We went after it. We did everything but get the goal. So I'll take criticism, we'll all take some criticism for different things that happened, but I don't regret what happened on Tuesday night.

I'm actually really proud of our team the way we played and went after it and I think that anybody that watches that game knows that that's a really good team that really went after the game on a big moment, and just on the day came up a little bit short. Thanks for asking that one, though.

Q. You just mentioned that you had trouble scoring on Tuesday but today you had three separate players score goals. What does that say about your team's ability to bounce back and the depth?
JESSE MARSCH: You're right about both. I think this team, even before I talk about the attacking part, this team can defend. This team is not going to be easy to score on. Even tonight, it took, you know, a wonder-free kick into the corner, and out of the run of play, we've hardly given up any goals. We've been really good that way.

And then that leads to the fact that we know we're going to score goals. We know we are always going to be a threat with our style of play and with the players we have, we know that the goals will always come.

So the more that we can really defend and the more that we can make it hard on teams to break us down, the goals are going to come in bunches, I think often. That's what makes the potential of this team exciting, and yeah, again, different guys. You know, I think it's only a matter of time before Danny gets going and before Florian Valot start scoring in bunches. Yeah, we're excited about the potential.

Q. Flo is a guy you've been giving some very big, important minutes and it seems again, he's making it difficult for you to take him off the field after a solid performance.
JESSE MARSCH: Yeah, I think he was one of the best players on the field, if not the best. He can play the way we want. He can run all day. He's incredibly smart tactically and he can make attacking plays. The pass he gave for the second goal to Brad was phenomenal.

So yeah, I mean, we're really excited about the future for Flo and I feel like we're just starting to scratch the surface. We've seen it blossom with USL and we felt strongly that we would be able to insert it into MLS, and now it's starting to come together and I think it's only going to get much better.

So, very excited. Okay? Thank you.