Containing the other top offense in MLS was no easy task, but the New York Red Bulls defense and goalkeeper held Atlanta United FC to just one goal on Sunday night en route to a 3-1 road win.
Making his first MLS start since 2015 -- and first with the Red Bulls since 2012 -- Ryan Meara shined in his time between the sticks.
"It speaks volumes to his mentality, how he has grown, how he has trusted us and believed in what we what we do here and how he is committed to it fully and then considers ways to get better every day," Marsch said. "You guys get the benefit of seeing him a lot and if you would see the way that him and Luis [Robles] work together, the way that they appreciate each other, push each other and the way that they support each other it would make any coach proud. Certainly then, I think the performances that he has put together are a culmination of all those things coming together."
Meara started in place of Robles, whose ironman streak of 183 games started and full 90 was ended due to a knee injury. He is considered week-to-week. Meara went out and made six saves, one shy of his career best.
"Any time we get the chance to give a guy an opportunity, especially a guy that has waited so carefully and so intently and he gets this chance and he performs like that, it is a great moment for him and for all of us," Marsch said. "Like we knew, he is a guy that we can count on."
Meara, who has been with the Red Bulls since 2012, save for a season on loan to New York City FC, comes out every day to training with Robles as they push each other to continually get better.
"Just trying to keep up with [Robles] every day, I’ve become so much better just by doing that," Meara said. "He comes ready to train one hundred percent every day and if he’s doing that then how can the back up not be doing that. Working with him, learning a lot from him has helped me."
All that work paid off, as his defenders were more than confident in what he'd be able to do.
"We know what he is capable of, and I think some people don’t get to see that as much as we do," Parker said. "We know we were confident in him and what he was able to do and I think he showed, not only us, that he was able to step in, but obviously the fans and the rest of the league, as well."
Meara was helped out by his strong defensive backline, including possibly the best center back pairing in the league, as they continue to stymie opposing offenses.
"As a backline, I think we are flying with [confidence]," Parker said. "Confidence is something that we are running with and we take a lot of pride in it. Myself, Aaron [Long], Kemar [Lawrence], [Michael] Amir [Murillo], we all take a lot of pride in being strong defensively, making it hard on other teams and limiting their opportunities and goals, obviously. It is something that we want to continue working on. We want to continue to dominate and be a very good back line."
Whether Meara or Robles start in goal, the Red Bulls defense will look to keep their strong start to the season rolling against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
"We know every time with Philly it’s always a battle," Meara said. "With all the rivals, but especially Philly and a lot of times it just comes down to who wants it more, who is going to be more physical and up for it on the day. So, we know what we’re getting into. We put Atlanta behind us, it was a great win, but it’s in the past now and Philly has looked good. I think they have two wins in a row now, they killed Salt Lake the other night, so we know we got to be up for it."
Saturday is Military Appreciation Night at Red Bull Arena. The first 15,000 fans that come to the match will receive a free koozy, courtesy of Bayer. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster or Fevo, where $3 of every ticket sold will be donated to K9s for Warriors.