(The Red Bulls wore their navy blue uniforms at home on Sunday night – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
The New York Red Bulls won their second game in the International Champions Cup, as they beat Benfica of Portugal 2-1 on Sunday night at Red Bull Arena. This comes after they beat Chelsea, the defending English Premier League Champions on Wednesday night.
New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the ICC showing the depth of the Red Bulls, as he worked in players from his second unit and from their USL team, “Yeah, I think it’s been an opportunity to look at a bunch of different guys, and give some players who haven’t had as many minutes with the first team, more minutes and see where they’re at in their progress.
“I’m very pleased with the game because with a split squad and different guys in the rotation, it looked like our team. Guys know their roles. They’re committed and they trust each other. So I think we’re taking little steps along the way and I think for me, even though it’s an exhibition tournament, as a team we took steps and as a club we took steps. We’re trying to grow and we’re looking for ways to get better,” said Marsch.
Benfica got the scoring started in then 7th minute when Pizzi got a feed at the top of the crease and sent a rocket past Red Bulls goaltender Luis Robles to make it 1-0. Robles recovered from this and made some great saves throughout the rest of the first half.
In the 33rd minute, Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips showed tremendous alertness as he swooped in on Benfica defender Luisao, who lost control of the ball. Wright-Phillips grabbed it, took a couple of steps and drilled it to tie the game at 1.
In the 56th minute, the Red Bulls were deep in Benfica territory when the ball got to Mike Grella at the right corner near the top of the crease. Grella shot it to his left and it deflected off a Benfica defender and into the top corner of the net to give the Red Bulls a 2-1 lead.
Grella said of his goal celebration, “It was also such a fantastic goal so I didn’t want to not celebrate it and I didn’t know what to do so I guess it was a natural reaction.”
Grella on what they can take from these two games: “A little bit of confidence, level wise are not that far off. We gave them both very tough matches and I think the young guys played very well against Chelsea. We put a very professional performance intonight, a very mature performance. It is midseason for us so we have to be careful and be mindful of ourselves and what we wanted to accomplish over the two games. A lot of confidence that we can take from the games.”
Marsch on if any players stood out in these matches: “I think Sean Davis continues to impress me, and I think he shows that he’s ready for some bigger challenges. I thought Karl Ouimette was pretty solid today, [Anatole] Abang continues to show well…I was really happy with the game Benfica gave us.They made it fast, their sharp on the ball, they have a lot of clever players on the ball. It wasn’t an easy day for our midfielders and defenders trying to figure out how to deal with some of their movements. I would say that out of these two games, a lot of these guys came out of it with passing marks.”
New York Red Bulls Captain midfielder Dax McCarty on what the team takes from beating Chelsea and Benfica: “I think that a lot of our young guys are growing up pretty quickly, I mean the Chelsea game is pretty self-explanatory, we had pretty much all Academy kids and then a few First Team guys sprinkled in and they played unbelievably well and then tonight sprinkle in a few more First Team guys, but also a lot of young guys that are on the First Team that don’t get as many minutes and the level doesn’t drop off too much. Obviously it’s always nice to win these friendlies, I mean these are some of the best teams in Europe, certainly we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves and think that we can go and win the Champions League because we know they’re in preseason, but at the same time it’s encouraging that young players can step on the field and not be afraid. That’s the one thing I’ve seen, they have no fear and they’re ready to just do whatever it takes to get results and help this team win and that’s a really encouraging sign.”
On if it helps that the young players are playing the same style as the First Team, McCarty said, “I think our whole club is integrated now from top to bottom. I think every single coach in this organization has an idea of how the Red Bulls want to play and what the system is, how each player and each position is supposed to work within the whole and every player knows that they sacrifice for the greater good of the team and everything that they do on the field is important to help the team win so obviously that’s important, you need your Academy kids to know exactly how you want to play if you’re going to bring them up to the First Team and I think Jesse’s done a really good job of introducing young guys and making sure that they’re ready to play and not throwing them into the deep end too quickly, but you can see that the future of this club is in good hands and the kids are really bright and really good young players.”
Marsch said of 16-year old Tyler Adams, who played in this one and scored in the Chelsea game, “We like Tyler a lot. [He is] wise beyond sixteen years of age. Every day he trains, he trains hard, he fits within the group, he’s a competitor, he’s not afraid. He’s good with his feet, he’s a smart player, he can cover ground, so he’s got so many good qualities, and now it’s just about continuing to feed him with big experiences…you can already start to see that he’s a kid that’s going to be a part of this first group sooner rather than later.”
McCarty Makes All-Star Game:
On Saturday afternoon, Red Bulls Captain Dax McCarty was selected to replace New York City FC’s Frank Lampard in the MLS All-Star Game this Wednesday, July 29th in Colorado.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the honor for McCarty, “We’ll deserved. [Dax] has been a big factor for our success this year. [He] has grown into a real captain and a real leader, and I think for years has been a good player in this league so I’m really happy for him. It will be a big experience for him, and I think he’ll come back from it feeling even more confident, and with more belief in himself. Dax doesn’t struggle with that, but I think it’s always good to play amongst your peers, and be honored amongst your peers, and then in those games, feel the energy of how good the players are on the field.”