The New York Red Bulls put together an incredible 2018 campaign but ultimately fell short of raising MLS Cup, falling in the Eastern Conference Championship on Thursday night at Red Bull Arena.
"The emotion is, yeah, it hurts," Head Coach Chris Armas said. "We got really close, once again."
The Red Bulls team set MLS records for most wins, most home wins, most points in a season, among other major accomplishments, as well as raised the 2018 Supporters' Shield as the best team through the regular season.
"The end of the season is always tough, especially if you didn’t win the MLS Cup," Luis Robles, team captain, said. "But we look back and we put together a really great season and I know in the offseason or at least in the preseason our staff was just so excited about what this team could do because they felt that this was the best roster they’ve ever assembled. I think the results speak for themselves.
"We set a record for most points in a season, set a record for most points at home, there were a lot of records and at least we were able to get the Supporters’ Shield which is a piece of silverware. There’s a lot of teams in this league that didn’t win any silverware. It’s crazy how because of the ambition of the team you end up minimizing something like that, but that’s a big thing to be able to look at your season and at least point to some sort of silverware I think is huge… and yet the big one eludes us."
"In our sport, I don't think you harp on this too long," Armas said. "It's such a rigorous schedule. You're in it every day. You don't stop. When you lose, it's a screeching halt, you know, and in a few days maybe or in some time, you'll stop and look back and we'll feel good about the job being done and what the guys accomplished."
New York will report to preseason in mid-January.
Following the season, Armas said he told the players that he was proud of their accomplishments this year and that in due time they'll be able to look back on the work they put in.
"It was incredible, the way you guys won the Shield, no one thought you would do it," Armas said. "To win five games at the end of the year and we couldn't slip up once, and we didn't, we won a major trophy, and thank them for the support and the effort that they give the coaching staff and the organization all the time. We ask a lot of the players, and I thank them for that."
As for how this sets a mentality for the offseason and 2019, it's all eyes forward for the Red Bulls.
"I can say that it will fuel me for next season," Robles said. "As long as we haven’t won it, there’s always going to be that motivation to continue to go because it’s all I can do. That’s all I can do, right? Continue to push myself to be better, and as a leader push the guys to be as good as they can be, and then you just give it your best shot."
Armas said the team will focus in on what made them great this year and build upon that.
"It just makes us hungrier," Armas said. "That's the mentality. We don't make excuses, we'll just keep plugging."