New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas
On missed chances:
It usually can come down to that. It’s one way to look at it, how each team takes their chances. We certainly created a few good ones tonight but it goes like that sometimes and they converted on theirs. We know that about them, specifically that they don’t need a lot of chances for goals. It’s one of the things that we’ve talked about.
On conceding goals just before and after half time:
Yeah, look, going into half time you feel like it’s there for us because of what the first half looked like. Then, to come out in the second half and things really didn’t even settle down and you’re down two-nothing and I think it did rattle us a little bit. You could feel the game needed a little bit of life which is hard, you’re playing against a good team and all the factors – there’s psychological piece to it. The reality, it’s just not easy then. So, yeah, 42nd and 48th minute are tough times to give up goals. We made a good push in the first half and then, you know, later in the game we pushed and maybe could’ve gotten one or two. We thought it’d be important to get in one but it’s pretty clear, it’s half time and there’s a lot of belief in our locker room right now, and the coaching staff. We know that it’s a tough task but one that we’re up for.
On facing Santos’ two strikers:
Yeah look, it’s clear how they play, we thought they would play that way. They could vary it the way they finished the game. We thought that’d be one of the things we could see but their strength is up the field with the quick wingers and the two strikers who do a good job of challenging back lines by staying close to each other, they stay high, and then they operate underneath, which, you now, we could be even more aggressive. As we’re trying to use our sixes to be aggressive and our center backs need to also be aggressive, and they were. They made some plays and we dealt with it for the most part on the night. They scored a goal from across and another little combination which is a good finish but it’s always a challenge when you have two clever strikers that move well and operate and they can get you behind and move underneath as well.
On the team’s strategy if the high-press isn’t effective:
We quickly sorted out, we thought we’d press in two different ways and we quickly sorted it out by just dropping Kaku underneath and staying in midfield instead of side-by-side with Brad which is one way we could go ahead. If we remain aggressive, which is the mindset and plan all the time whether we’re high or even in a deeper block, where the way they’re structured with two central midfielders, we’re thinking our sixes could be more aggressive too. There was a number of transition moments created so they didn’t score any out of, right, they didn’t create many – there was a couple of chances where they beat the pressure and then it’s fires to put out. But that’s the risk we take sometimes and, with good players, sometimes they beat the pressure. But there’s a lot more built in our team. Most teams don’t let us press, like tonight. The way they built out of the back is exactly the way we thought they’d build out of the back because that’s what we’ve seen. I’m not sure exactly what the coach said but we see them play very direct which I think, with the two strikers you could see how good they are playing off each other and that’s what we thought we’d see. So, pressing is one part of it. So much more is counter pressing, so much more is we can be aggressive up the field and aggressive in deeper posture and then with the ball I think we can create, like we did tonight. We created a bunch of chances. Brad had a couple, Conor Lade has a big chance, Andy, the set pieces. Each guy had a couple of good looks there. There might have been maybe five to eight really good looks. So, like we said earlier, if you get one or two of those it’s a different game. That gives us confidence going into leg two. We’ll create.
On creating chances:
James, again, there’s a couple of clear ones, like on the goal line, that we just didn’t take full opportunity of. That’s how it goes sometimes. It doesn’t always go. We’ve seen them play in games like the other night. They had chances, they didn’t get the result. The other team took control and finished their chances. This is one of the ways that it goes. Did we expect for there to be a ton of chances up there, I’m not sure. I know we’ll get chances. There’s not a game that we play that we don’t. So, the plan will be to be aggressive, to understand them now even more, I can’t imagine they’ll look much different from what they try to do. Especially, we know their strength is up the field, their wide play and that their central play up the field is dangerous and we’ll have a better way to address that. So, we can minimize on one end and maximize on the other. We feel good. In the locker room, there’s good energy in there after the game, believe it or not, that there’s a lot of belief and the mentality is strong.
On if the team changed after giving up the goal:
Look, when you play against good teams that have good individual players they sometimes make you miss and they’re hard to deal with sometimes. They’re intelligent all over the field. Sometimes our aggressiveness, if we’re a little bit late, or you know, sometimes it looks like all or nothing plays. Good players can, again, they don’t make it so easy. We’ll have to look hard at what the end of that first half looked like. I’m not sure if it was against the run of play but it felt like we kept pushing and it kept being transition moments. I felt on the night, it was a little bit self-inflicted at times. We saw that, as a team, they’re not always sprinting at you and their back line is always dropping in transition. So, there was time and space. If we could just calm down a little bit. But there did seem to be some unforced errors that we just didn’t get right and that, again, we have confidence that we’ll get those right because often times we do and we can add up to something.
On Depth and Kyle Duncan:
He's a really interesting player, because he doesn't look phased and he can run and you know there's little things in there and he's still going to grow and I think there's a nice upside to his game. You can see that in transition moments defensively, he can get back quickly and he can win foot races and he's got a pretty good knack for getting forward so... and he was really good in the air tonight so the whole package he brought something different to the table… And, yeah, makes us feel like we've got some decisions to make here.
On strategy going into leg 2:
Well, the way we'll go about it is intelligently, having balance to our attacks that we have to... like tonight, one of the messages at halftime, always keeping two guys up and we can't just start throwing everyone forward, both outside backs, so we have to have balance and a calculated approach. Certainly, the game won't be won in the first twenty minutes from us, but it can be lost, so we'll have to be smart in how we go about it, but I think we'll have to remain aggressive too. That's who we are and that's - we'll go there calculated, but one goal at a time.